Personalized Medicine and Costs
We are all aware of the soaring costs of health care, and the imperative that solutions be found to lower expenses while continuing to provide quality care to all. Not so easy. You likely know about the incredibly high costs of some new cancer drugs, and the concerns about their value. Is a monthly cost of tens of thousands of dollars justified when the drug is only helpful in a small number of cases? (and, of course, the answer to that one depends a lot on whether you are the doctor, a policy maker, or the patient). This is a hopeful article from JNCI about this problem; it suggests that advances in personalized medicine (understanding the genetics of a particular tumor) will help reduce costs. The assumtion is that, by better identifying whom will be helped by a drug, others will be spared the treatment side effects and the cost.
Here is the beginning and then a link (note that it takes you to the abstract, but that, on the right, there is a link to the full article) :
Era of Personalized Medicine May Herald End of Soaring Cancer Costs
By Bryan Keogh
Personalized medicine promises to drastically improve quality and lon- gevity in the coming decades by cus- tom-tailoring a patient's treatment for cancer or other diseases to his or her partic- ular genetic makeup. It may also become the saving grace of developed countries with massive debts and bloated budgets by cutting soaring health care costs by tens of billions of dollars per year.
At least, that's the hope. Using advance- ments in genomics and proteomics, re- searchers have developed diagnostics targeting an individual's unique genetic makeup, potentially eliminating unneces- sary treatments, reducing adverse reactions to drugs, and improving health outcomes?— while lowering costs, or at least retarding their rapid increase.
"In a sense, it's the holy grail, being able to treat every person's disease as their own," said Richard Sullivan, a professor at King's College London and lead author of a recent Lancet report on the cost of cancer care. "If you're going to see real afford- ability, if you're going to see real cost sav- ings, and high-quality evidence-based care, you have to do it across the board; you can't simply say it's all about medicines."
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