The Case for Personalized Medicine:

One Size Fits One

Among the most promising advances in medical science today is the ability to target drugs based on personal profiles. This reduces dangerous side effects while dramatically improving outcomes. This is just one example of the impact of personalized medicine.

The damage from improper treatment is immense: 5-7% of hospitalizations are due to drug reactions1, and even when ineffective medications do not harm a patient, they may delay life-saving treatment. Every individual metabolizes drugs differently, based on their genetic makeup, age, biochemical environment, and many other factors. Drugs typically prescribed for a particular condition may be of little use for some patients, or more likely to cause adverse reactions2. On the other hand, medications that would have been safe and effective for most of the population have been withdrawn from use (or never approved in the first place) because of their negative effect on a small minority. These issues put a strain on patients, resources, and the entire healthcare system. This impact is measured in wasted time, wasted money, and lives lost.

  1. Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN (April 1998). "Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies". JAMA 279 (15): 1200–5.
  2. BBC News (2003). “Drugs ‘don’t work on many people’”. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3299945.stm