Publication Date: September 2008
Publisher: Genetics and Public Policy Center
Author(s): Sara Katsanis; Gail Javitt
Research Area: Health
Coverage: United States
Physicians and researchers have expressed great optimism and confidence in pharmacogenetics merging into medical practice. As the science progresses, it may become feasible that, rather than treating a patient with therapies that may not work for them -- or could be toxic --doctors armed with pharmacogenetic know-how will tailor treatments. This approach has the potential to reduce health care costs by avoiding therapies with little chance of success, and to reduce the number of adverse drug reactions (about two million per year in the United States, 100,000 of them fatal). With the completed human genome sequence to draw on, researchers rapidly are identifying genetic variants that may be associated with health conditions or that affect how the body processes drugs and nutrients. Thus far, however, there has been only modest pay-off, and significant
scientific, economic, policy, and practical challenges must be faced before the fieldâ s potential can be realized.