Thursday, January 7, 2016

Personalized Medicine has Two Sides

Andre Picard, in the National Post, writes:
The cost of sequencing is falling rapidly. It cost in excess of $3-billion (U.S.) to decode the first human genome, but now the $1,000 test is imminent, putting the technology within the reach of many. Practically, this means we are moving to an era in which medical treatments, and drugs in particular, are tailored to individuals based on their genetic makeup.

These advances, however, bring with them a host of ethical and economic challenges – in part, whether the new technologies and the benefits that flow from them, will be available equitably, to those most in need and not just those who can afford them.
One of the big potential benefits of personalized medicine is not giving expensive treatments to those who can afford them, if they won't work because of their (or their tumor's) genetics. For example, a $250 ALK mutation that's negative rules out a $90,000/year run of Xalkori, an ALK inhibitor,