The benefits of personalized medicine

Cancer research


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Throughout history, the practice of medicine has largely been reactive. Even today, we have to 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 them are often imprecise, unpredictable and ineffective.

In addition, the drugs and treatments we devise are tested on broad populations and are prescribed using statistical averages. For example, on average, any given prescription drug now on the market only works for half of those who take it. Among cancer patients, the rate of ineffectiveness jumps to 75 percent. Anti-depressants are effective in only 62 percent of those who take them.

Personalized medicine is beginning to transform the practice of medicine. 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  and avoid prescribing drugs with predictable side effects
  • Reduce the time, cost, and failure rate of pharmaceutical clinical trials, and
  • Eliminate trial-and-error inefficiencies that inflate health care costs and undermine patient care

Personalized medicine means that one day, doctors and genetic counselors will be able to craft a lifelong health maintenance strategy tailored to a person’s unique genetic constitution. It will be possible to predict susceptibility to diseases and to prevent, delay or mitigate those diseases with precisely chosen medicines, therapies and customized lifestyle advice.

How is personalized medicine helping people today? Learn more


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