Hope or Hype for Personalized Medicine?

During the past several decades, treatment for a variety of conditions has begun to shift from a “one size fits all” approach to a more personalized strategy that takes account of patients' specific genetic makeups. But, while this high-tech approach could be a boon to patients, it could be detrimental to drug companies’ bottom lines.

Editors’Note: August 4, 2017
Legitimateobjections have been raised about the independence and integrity of thecommentaries that Henry Miller has written for Project Syndicate and other outlets, inparticular that Monsanto, rather than Miller, drafted some of them. Readersshould be aware of this potential conflict of interest, which, had it beenknown at the time Miller’s commentaries were accepted, would have constitutedgrounds for rejecting them.

STANFORD – During the past several decades, treatment for a variety of conditions has begun to shift from a “one size fits all” approach to a more personalized strategy. As a result, patients can more often be matched to the best drug for their genetic makeup or the exact subcategory of their disease. This enables physicians to avoid prescribing a medication (or a dosage) that might cause serious side effects in certain populations.

In other words, even among patients who apparently have the same disease and symptoms, the treatment for each one would be determined by various predictive or prognostic tests. Eventually, these tests could extend even to the sequencing of the DNA in an individual patient’s cancer cells, for example.

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