Jan 13, 2015 · 1 minute

UPDATE: After publication, 23andMe sent us the following statement:

"Thank you for covering yesterday's 23andMe announcement. We wanted to clarify our status with the FDA. 23andMe is fully committed to completing the regulatory review process and is actively working to do so by partnering with the FDA. We currently have a 510(k) application for a health report under review by the FDA. Once cleared, this submission could provide a foundation for future submissions. The research collaborations do not impact our work with the FDA."

Genetic sequencing startup 23andMe has announced a partnership with Pfizer, the second-largest by revenues pharmaceutical company in the United States, which will allow the drug maker to access anonymized information about 23andMe's customers.

23andMe says in the partnership's announcement that around 80 percent of its 800,000 customers have agreed to have their information shared with outside researchers to help them learn more about the role DNA plays on a person's health and inform clinical trials.

Enrolling in the research program requires consumers who used the company's product to agree to a publicly-available consent document affording 23andMe rights not covered in its Terms of Service. An estimated 640,000 people are said to have done just that.

This partnership comes more than a year after 23andMe was forced to change its marketing strategy by the Food and Drug Administration, which complained about claims that the company's $99 DNA test could be used to inform medical decisions.

23andMe suspended a feature telling its customers what disorders are connected to some of their genetic markers after the FDA's complaint. The company now markets its tests as tools offering "ancestry-related genetic reports" and "uninterpreted raw genetic data."

Partnering with outside companies like Pfizer allows 23andMe to continue focusing on health research while bypassing the FDA's restrictions. The result? A company selling "ancestry tools" providing genetic data to one of the largest pharmaceutical companies.