Commentary co-authors Barbara Evans, Ph.D., J.D., David Flockhart, M.D., Ph.D.,and Eric Meslin, Ph.D., see pharmacogenomics, which matches drugs to an individual's specific genetic makeup, as having major implications for the way health care will be delivered and financed in the future.
Pharmacogenomics has the potential to reduce "trial and error" in health care through tests that can identify, in advance, which patients are likely to have a good response to a particular drug therapy. The goal is to target specific drugs at specific patients, using genetic information to increase treatment successes and reduce adverse reactions.
The authors note that many of the health care industry's business norms date to an earlier era when prescribing was more an art than a science. "For example, the usual practice today is that patients and insurers must pay, even if a treatment fails to work. As well-targeted therapies become more commonplace, people may start to question that rule," said Dr. Evans, a senior scientist in the Indiana University School of Medicine's Department of Medicine. She is an economist and attorney has been heavily involved over the past twenty years in restructuring of regulated industries in the U.S., Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
The authors expect pressure in coming years for health care providers and drug manufacturers to bear a larger share of the costs associated with drug-treatment failures that occur when therapies are not well targeted.