The benefits of personalized medicine

Throughout history, the practice of medicine has largely been reactive. Even today, we usually must wait until the onset of diseases and then try to treat or cure them. And because we don’t fully understand the genetic and environmental factors that cause major diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, our efforts to treat these diseases are often imprecise, unpredictable and ineffective.

The drugs and treatments we devise are tested on broad populations and are prescribed using statistical averages. Consequently, they work for some patients but not for many others, due to genetic differences among the population. On average, any given prescription drug now on the market only works for half of those who take it.

Personalized medicine, because it is based on each patient’s unique genetic makeup, is beginning to overcome the limitations of traditional medicine. Increasingly it is allowing health care providers to:

  • shift the emphasis in medicine from reaction to prevention
  • predict susceptibility to disease
  • improve disease detection
  • preempt disease progression
  • customize disease-prevention strategies
  • prescribe more effective drugs
  • avoid prescribing drugs with predictable side effects
  • reduce the time, cost, and failure rate of pharmaceutical clinical trials
  • eliminate trial-and-error inefficiencies that inflate health care costs and undermine patient care.