Personalized Medicine: Is Pharma Leading from the Front?

July 29th, 2016

Personalized medicine is becoming a part of everyone’s life. Its huge potential to change healthcare in the foreseeable future is exciting but often hard to shape given the many remaining barriers. And yet it increasingly enters our life, even if we or our loved ones are not currently receiving a personalized treatment. No week goes by without several major news stories on the topic. In just one week of July 2016 there have been stories on the likelihood of a vaccine against Alzheimer’s1, the UK’s drug gatekeeper NICE accepting a price deal from Pfizer in order to make Bosulif available for leukemia treatment2, and the FDA’s new guidance  on co-development of therapies with companion diagnostics3. Each of the above nudges the business of personalized medicine forward in some important way. Think of the people affected by just these three stories: patients, doctors, laboratories, hospitals, regulatory authorities, payers, pharma and diagnostic companies.

Already, 70 per cent of oncology drugs in the pipeline are DEPENDENT on a biomarker. By 2020 over 400 targeted therapies will need a diagnostic. Combine these figures with progress in consumerized test demand, big data transparency, evidence-based decisions and the prospect of monitoring our health with wearable tracking devices and it’s clear we are in the midst of an unprecedented wave of personalized healthcare innovation.

All these aspects are converging rapidly but they are not likely to lead to a new reality of personalized medicine when developed as isolated workstreams. They require integration and collaborative effort from all stakeholders, including patients, whose growing awareness of technology and wellness in an increasingly patient-centric healthcare model, are looking to a future where genetic testing for inherited conditions becomes routine.

Arguably more than other stakeholders, pharma companies are essential to the speed of personalized medicine integration. They have the skills and resources to accelerate the right drug for the right patient at the right time. The signs that they want to lead this field are promising, but even for them the learning curve is very steep. The speed at which they successfully negotiate that curve will determine the future leaders in healthcare.





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