Medicine Gets Personal

In late November, our healthcare group – BlissHealth – hosted a panel discussion on personalized medicine with speakers from industry, clinical practice and finance.  The discussion coalesced around four key themes:

  1. Small is the New “Big.”  Pharmaceutical companies can shrink the market by 95 percent and still produce positive returns, due to higher margins and new, global markets.  “In the future, there will be many more drugs targeted to specific diseases, but the aggregate economic values will hold constant,” predicted Barry Weiner, President of Enzo Biochem.  The FDA’s approval earlier this year of Pfizer’s targeted treatment for lung cancer, Crizotinib, is a good case-in-point.
  2. Value Trumps Volume.  Payors (the largest of which is now the government) will have a big say in which diagnostic tests and personalized therapies are used by physicians.  Their primary criterion will be total economic value.  What is the right drug for the right patient at the right time?   If industry demonstrates an economic benefit to targeted therapies — i.e., efficacy, reduced hospitalization – payors are likely to be receptive.
  3. Technology Enables.  For personalized medicine to become globally viable, we need lower-cost tests.  According to Dr. Jorge Leon, President of Leomics, the average price of a core laboratory test is roughly $20; a personalized medicine test costs 10 to 200 times that much.  As technology develops over the next few years, cost efficiencies are likely to open up new, global markets.
  4. Collaboration Fuels Success.   To deliver on the promise of personalized medicine, all stakeholders must collaborate.  “If we think that there will be one driver of the bus, we will just fail,” noted Dr. Pia Gargiulo, Senior Director of Pharma Business Development at Qiagen.   Payors, patients and key opinion leaders need to work together to address regulatory issues, funding and intellectual property.  “All of these players need to be involved in a collective consciousness moving forward,” Gargiulo said.


What challenges and opportunities do you see as medicine becomes more personalized?


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