Personalized Medicine graphic shows difference between Current Practice and Personalized Medicine Model

Personalized medicine has the potential to massively transform the delivery of healthcare and to greatly improve the lives of patients. Moreover, it can also provide enormous benefits to payers and those who manage health systems by reducing overall medical expenditures and enhancing patients' quality of life.

A medicine only has value if it works. In essence, two things make a medicine work: the chemistry of the medicine and the chemistry of the patient.

Prior to the deciphering of the human genome, there were few mechanisms to determine, with precision, the chemistry of patients or, more precisely, the molecular data to pinpoint biomarkers that will identify patients who will respond to standard therapies.

Specifically, until very recently, the use of medicine was a trial and error “one size fits all” approach. An approved drug product will work in 30 to 60 percent of patients, but it is impossible to know which patients would benefit. In many patients a prescribed drug therapy will not work at all. In a worst-case scenario, it will produce a dangerous adverse reaction.

Genomics changes everything. Today we can spit into a test tube and mail it to 23 And Me and learn what our individual predispositions are to a disease or condition. With that information, we can make lifestyle changes that may slow or prevent the onset of that disease.

More importantly, clinicians can analyze the data from our genome to determine whether a specific therapy will work for an individual patient. The result is that today healthcare systems can deliver targeted therapies based on more precise diagnostics. These have real value by providing more certain positive patient outcomes, far fewer adverse reactions, less waste and more efficient and cost-effective health care. The precision that genomics brings to healthcare is a win-win for patients whose lives are improved and payers whose dollars are spent on more efficient therapies. 

Sources: 

Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director, NHS England, Board paper: Personalized Medicine Strategy, September 2015

Rob Fraser, Personalized Medicine Initiative, Presentation to Cameron Institute, Health Policy Assembly, October 2015