I have listened to many Physicians debate what Personalized Medicine is. Personalized Medicine means different things to different people; it really depends on ones perspective. I think we can all agree that Personalized Medicine is getting the right medicine to the right patients at the right dose. I was at a conference earlier this year and the following definition was presented which I like, “Personalized Medicine is the management of a patient’s medical condition utilizing diagnostic tools such as molecular analysis to achieve an optimal medical outcome”. There is an article and a Perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine http://www.nejm.org regarding Personalized Medicine that is worth reading.
Healthcare reform and the increasing cost of medicine have certainly stimulated discussions regarding the importance of Personalized Medicine and how to move from concept to reality. FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg commented on the FDA’s commitment and the stumbling blocks that need to be addressed in order to move forward. Interesting, some of the challenges she mentioned such as, collaboration/ effective communication within the agency and process transparency are concerns that are not unique to Personalized Medicine.
In my opinion, one of the most important issues that should be on the short list to address is the concept/approach of “companion technologies” and full disclosure of data from drug, diagnostic and genetic companies. I quote from NEJM Perspective “the success of Personalized Medicine depends on having accurate diagnostic tests that identify patients who can benefit from targeted therapies.” I would also add that there needs to be discussions between the Health insurance companies and the FDA regarding reimbursement.
It is my desire that Personalized Medicine becomes a reality soon and when we speak about Personalized Medicine we can speak about our successes beyond cancer.