The future of medicine revolves around the 1 aspect that governs every D2C product Personalization.
While we have often seen consumer products like clothing, perfumes, food items
customized to fit in a wide variety of people. A Medicine Strategy which is personalized has the potential to revolutionize the way we see healthcare offerings in today’s world. It is a strategy that enables patients to access a combination of tailor-made drugs and treatment options. One prong of the Personalized medicine strategy deals with technologically enabling pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to come up with novel drugs for each distinctly identified patient group. This can only be done if the regulatory concerns regarding new drugs, the innovation risks are well accounted for. The second prong of a personalized medicine strategy deals with identifying incentivization mechanisms which can be agreed by all major stakeholders, namely the developers, regulator, payers and dispensers. The third and the final prong of the personalized medicine strategy is enabling market access. This prong ensures regulatory compliances and lower drug costs, operationalizes healthcare institutions to administer personalized medicine appropriately etc. so that it can be beneficial to the masses. The underlying assumption of this Personalized Medicine Strategy is the fact that patient population can be to a great degree stratified into groups based on biological profiles or genetics so that the efficiency of a particular drug in different sub-populations can be reasonably estimated.
To commercialize Personalized medicine successfully, apart from advances in the developing the therapeutics, it requires a unification of stakeholders across the pharmaceutical value chain and
an enabling policy/governance environment. The success of a personalized medicine strategy will be determined by its translation into active day to day healthcare practices. Various approaches
to personalization include health tracking mechanisms, advanced diagnostics for early disease detection and genetic profiling of individuals. With the use of DNA sequencing technologies,
predictive modelling, study of proteomics and human phenotypes etc. researchers have been able to identify many root causes of diseases which were previously unknown. However, this basic
research still has not been translated into a robust business model targeting the masses. Oncology has been the forefront of developments in Personalized medicine. While, there has been a huge success in commercializing and profiling individuals for certain types of cancer, the progress has not been extrapolated to other therapeutic areas currently. But on the bright side, the biomarkers and diagnostics industries are booming currently. However, experts uniformly share a concern behind the economics behind developing individual diagnostic tests and biomarker identification for a very small sub-strata of the affected population. To go through clinical trials for each new test becomes financially unsustainable especially when there is a huge doubt about payer re-imbursements once the novel diagnostic is launched.
To add more complexity to the problem, to get to common ground with payers is yet not simple since it is difficult to establish by mutual consensus, the total costs saved by taking a diagnostic
test as against not taking that test since the real outcomes would only be seen after months or years in some cases. Hence, to navigate this cloud of current versus future health benefits is as
mountainous task as it is delicate in nature since the decision can directly impact the life of millions of people. However, we end with a positive note that countries have already started to recognize the huge improvements in market access that can be brought about with stratifying people and then prescribing treatments to them. This also reduces the cost which is regularly incurred by prescribing drugs to those patient populations which are not receptive to them. So, in sum, we are hopeful that the next decade could be a giant leap towards personalization, although it might take some more time for the regulatory and legislative infrastructure to be in place globally.