Test Company Says Hundreds Incorrectly Told They Might Have Cancer

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June 5, 2023 – Cancer test maker Grail says a telemedicine vendor incorrectly told about 400 patients they might have cancer.

The erroneous messages were sent because the vendor, PWNHealth, had a “software configuration issue” that has since been fixed, Grail said in an e-mail statement, The New York Times reported. 

The affected patients had purchased Grail’s Galleri test, which uses drawn blood to detect a signal shared by 50 types of cancer, according to the newspaper. 

The problem was not caused by incorrect results from the cancer test, Grail told the Times, and some of the people who were notified had not even had blood drawn yet. 

PWNHealth notified Grail on May 19 that an “inaccurate form letter” had been sent to about 400 customers. The vendor said in an emailed statement that a system used to send template messages to people had a “misconfiguration,” according to the Times. 

“We addressed the underlying problem within an hour of becoming aware of it and have implemented additional processes to ensure it does not happen again,” the company said. “In partnership with Grail, we started contacting impacted individuals within 36 hours.”

Grail’s parent company is Illumina, a leading maker of gene-sequencing machines. In April, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission ordered Illumina to divest itself of Grail because the acquisition would stifle competition in cancer testing. Illumina is appealing.

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The New York Times: “Hundreds Were Mistakenly Told They Might Have Cancer, Test Company Says.”

FTC: “Commission finds that Illumina’s $7.1 billion vertical acquisition is likely to substantially reduce competition in U.S. market for research, development, and commercialization of cancer tests.”

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