Move Over Maury: At-Home Paternity Tests Coming to a Pharmacy Near You

Who needs Maury Povich when paternity tests are now available at Rite Aid, Meijer and other pharmacies for just $29.99?

The Identigene DNA Paternity Test Collection Kit was first rolled out in Washington State, Oregon and California in November last year, according to Rite Aid spokeswoman Ashley Flower. The company continues to evaluate whether it should expand the kits to other states, she said.

According to the Identigene's Web site, the tests compare genetic information obtained from cheek swabs collected from both the child and the father. The swabs are then sent to the company's laboratory along with a $119 lab fee. The results are mailed within five business days.

While the tests are believed to be accurate (the company's Web site says they're 99 percent accurate), there are some reasons why women and couples may want to consult a professional laboratory for paternity tests, said Brad Imler, president of the American Pregnancy Association.

"There's no risk of harm from a medical standpoint," he said. "Although they're not admissible in court. And, from an emotional standpoint, it's a good idea to see a professional. It doesn't have to be a doctor, but someone who is prepared to discuss the result with you if it comes back in a way you were not expecting."

Imler said some people, especially married couples, may find the results of paternity tests traumatic.

"Whatever the circumstances are that bring someone to the point of needing a paternity test, that's irrelevant," he said. "The professionals associated with the laboratories are trained to present the results in a way that doesn't cause panic or in a way that reduces panic."

Both Rite Aid and Identigene representatives say the tests have brought no more controversy than at-home home pregnancy, blood pressure, cholesterol and drug tests did when they were first introduced.

"There was a lot of concern when the home pregnancy test first came out," said Douglas Fogg, chief operating officer for Identigene. "Would people use it correctly? Would people be able to handle the results?

"We have been providing home DNA testing since 1993 and on the rare occasion we'll have a client that has a hard time dealing with the results," he continued. "Most of our clientele are aware of what the results will be. They don't want to involve lawyers or physicians. They just want confirmation in a quick, easy and confidential way."

Fogg said the company’s Web site provides consumers with counseling information

"Some people are devastated by the result of a paternity test," he said. "A paternity test can have a life-changing result. For those that need professional help in dealing with their situation, our Web site offers references to family counseling services that can provide people with the help they need."

Fogg said 60 percent of Identigene's clients are females. Some users are looking to confirm their own paternity. Almost 30 percent of purchasers buy the test for someone other than themselves, according to the company's own surveys.

The tests are sold in 1,000 pharmacies nationwide, Fogg said. He said all pharmacies have reported sales and the company is pleased with the interest. The tests are also marketed online and through resellers.