A Hackney-based national charity has raised concerns about over-the-counter DNA paternity tests as they went on sale today in a local chain pharmacy.

Clockwork Pharmacy in Mare Street is the first retailer in the UK to sell DNA paternity test kits over the counter to the general public.

The £30 test kits can be purchased over the counter. They contain swabs to be used on the inside of the cheek. Once samples are taken they must be accompanied by a signed statement from an authorised adult before being sent away to a laboratory for testing. The laboratory processing of the DNA samples costs a further £119.

A spokesperson from Hackney–based national charity, Families Need Fathers said, “We would caution anyone thinking of using a kit to seek professional help and counselling in advance, as the test results could be surprising.”

Asked by the Hackney Citizen if this kit is the type of product he should be selling, Prashant Patel, owner of Clockwork Pharmacy said, “As people have become more aware of commercial DNA test services, they have been coming to our pharmacies asking if we sell paternity tests. Our selling them now is driven by customer demand.

“Inevitably different people have different concerns. Some want to know simply how long the tests take to get the results, others want to make sure the laboratories used are accredited. It’s a new area, so different people ask different things.”

When asked what type of product briefing he had been given had about the DNA paternity test, Mr Patel said, “I am a qualified pharmacist, so I can answer any questions relating to the technical aspects of testing. Of course, I am not a counsellor, but International Biosciences, the company that processes the tests, does have a dedicated counselling telephone service.”

A spokesperson for International Biosciences said, “International Biosciences takes the responsibility of paternity testing seriously, and has taken advice from religious groups and child welfare organisations.

“It provides a telephone line staffed by a qualified counsellor, as well as a range of other contact details for anyone thinking about purchasing a kit.”

He added, “International Biosciences believe they have adopted responsible practices in selling paternity kits, and that in a free society there is a right to DNA information.”

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