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Personalized medicine may cost more than cures

| March 24, 2014

Every week, it seems, biopharmaceutical companies announce new breakthroughs in “personalized medicine” — customized health care where the goal is to tailor drug therapies to individuals. Competition between gene sequencing businesses to catapult us into the age of the $1,000 genome drives much of the hoopla. Gene-based companion tests, for cancer drugs especially, promise to help doctors discern which patients are likeliest to benefit from which treatments, curtailing the need for mix-and-match, trial-and-error, one-size-fits-all chemotherapies.

But what if every new drug — however much more effective than current treatments — works only for smaller and smaller numbers of patients? And what happens to those minimally beneficial but mega-profitable blockbusters that now dominate cancer treatment when it becomes clearer that only small percentages of the people taking them will truly benefit, people who now can be identified beforehand?

Read the full, original story: Cure for some could cost us all

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The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.

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