The guy, who turned Libya into prosperous democracy (not), punished the evil Wall Street bankers (not), made Middle East safe (not), gave free health insurance to everyone (not) and forced Afgan jihadis to hide back in caves (not), is now on to his new venture - ‘personalized medicine’. Thanks to the PR team, this also has a new name - ‘precision medicine’.
Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.
Here is the touted success story -
I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable.
How good is that success story? Vox.com has some numbers.
All these treatments are still incredibly costly
There are big barriers here between the dream of personalized medicine and the reality. For the most part, the science of genetics just isn’t refined enough to help most patients, and developing targeted therapies is hugely expensive and time-consuming.
IT TOOK 24 YEARS AND TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO GET FROM THE DISCOVERY OF THE CYSTIC FIBROSIS MUTATION TO FDA APPROVAL. For example, Bill Gardner at the Incidental Economist ran some numbers on the promising cystic fibrosis therapy: “It took 24 years and tens of millions of dollars to get from the discovery of the CFTR [the particular genetic mutation that causes CF in some people] to the FDA approval of a drug. Moreover, this drug was designed for a mutation found in only a small fraction of the population of an already rare disease.”
Gardner noted that the drug costs about $300,000 per year, not only because of the manpower and years of research behind it, but because the market for the drug is small: “Precisely because the treatments are targeted at phenomena at the level of specific harmful mutations, they are not just personalized but practically bespoke, and correspondingly pricey.”
But do facts matter any more, when a country stands far apart from others?