Personalized Medicine – Part of the Health Cost Solution

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At the Research!America’s National Health Research Forum last week, personalized medicine was identified by several leaders as a solution to our health care cost challenges.  In reply to a question from the audience about how we can afford new cancer treatments,  NIH Director Francis Collins said “encouraging possibilities” exist with our “more precise understanding of the molecular basis of disease.” His comments underscore how medical innovation will be part of the solution not just for patients with unmet medical needs, but for our growing cost challenge as well. 

With the emergence of personalized medicine, we are in a better position to target treatments in cancer. Stratifying patients should make for smaller, more successful clinical trials. In addition, biomarkers are helping give more precise information earlier in the process. Collins said that if all goes well, the outcome “should be that we can actually get approvable compounds through the pipeline at a higher frequency of success and a lower cost than has often been the case in the past.” He stressed that partnerships with industry will be crucial.

PhRMA President and CEO, John Castellani added that drug development is getting dramatically more expensive, costing more than $1 billion and lasting more than 11-12 years per drug. “We have to get better. We have to get smarter. We have to get more targeted,” he said, “That’s where the science is going.” Biopharmaceutical companies are working on personalized medicine, he pointed out, and if we have a system that recognizes and delivers the “right care at the right time,” it will be “much more affordable than the trajectory that we’re on now.”

To listen to the full commentary from Collins, Castellani, and the other panelists on personalized medicine at the National Health Research Forum, visit http://www.researchamerica.org/forums, beginning at minute 137:00.

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