Most direct-to-consumer medical tests advertised online found not useful

Posted 30 January 2024

Australian researchers have found most direct-to-consumer (DTC) diagnostic, screening and risk-monitoring tests sold online are unlikely to benefit the average consumer.

Reference: Shih P, and others. Direct-to-consumer tests advertised online in Australia and their implications for medical overuse: Systematic online review and a typology of clinical utility. BMJ Open, 13(12):e074205, 2023

Two of the researchers independently conducted systematic searches using Google and Google Shopping in October 2020 and identified 177 home self-tests, 65 self-collected direct-access pathology tests (DAPTs), and 242 lab-collected DAPTs. Out of all 484 tests, researchers found:

  • 7% had potential clinical utility
  • 6% had limited clinical utility
  • 9% were non-evidence-based commercial ‘health checks’
  • 7% had methods and/or target conditions not recognized by the general medical community

The last category included these methods lacking clinical validity for conditions they’re intended to test for:

  • (a) hair metal and mineral analysis, and mycotoxin test for environmental
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ALCAT – Response to Dr Pridgeon’s letter

A letter written by Dr John Pridgeon dated February 18th, 2010, was circulated to his email list of clients and placed on the ALCAT South Africa website ( [no longer active]), where a number of allegations were made regarding the circumstances surrounding the closure of ALCAT South Africa. It is reproduced here, in the event that it was removed.

Many of the claims are either misleading, distortions or simply untruthful. Is Dr Pridgeon guilty of libel and defamation? (libel: a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person) (defamation: To damage the reputation, character, or good name of by slander or libel.)

Here are the facts written in style where the reader can decide for themselves. 

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