Saturday 31 October 2020

Hospitals ditch NIPT pre-natal test after Belgian clinic breaks privacy rules


At least two Dutch hospitals have stopped using a pre-natal test for Down’s and other syndromes after it emerged the Belgian firm carrying out the testing is using the women’s private information for commercial purposes.

Broadcaster BNR reported that the Gendia laboratory is approaching women who said on their health records there is cancer in their families about cancer screening. This, BNR says, is against both Dutch and EU privacy regulations.

Amsterdam’s OLVG hospital group and the Westfries Gasthuis in Hoorn have both stopped working with the Belgian firm. ‘We do not want to be associated with this practice in any way whatsoever,’ the OLVG group said in a statement.

The NIPT test is currently only available to women who have an increased risk of a child with Down’s, Edward’s and Patua’s syndrome. It will be available to all women next year, when other labs will be allowed to offer the test.

Gendia, which said in September it had carried out 17,000 tests on behalf of Dutch women, told BNR the company had broken no rules. It is the company’s duty to point out the risks and the availability of screening to the women, director Patrick Willems is quoted as saying.

Health minister Edith Schippers has asked her Belgian colleague for an explanation, news agency ANP said.

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