Personalized Medicine: The next health frontier

Ieva M. Augstums   |     October 23, 2015   |   SHARE THIS

One of PhRMA’s most important roles is serving as a convener. And earlier this week we joined with The Hill to convene two terrific discussions around personalized – or precision – medicine.

We do these kinds of things because we like to see people and ideas come together to solve tough challenges. We also do them because we know that we do not know everything, and what the National Institutes of Health (NIH) does is different from what the biopharmaceutical industry does. Both are needed to realize meaningful progress.

Photo credit: The Hill

Photo credit: The Hill

The biopharmaceutical industry does its part through deep, consistent investment. PhRMA members put more than $51.2 billion into research and development last year – a new record and the biggest R&D investment of any industry in the U.S. and the world.

Nevertheless, some believed that biopharmaceutical companies were resistant to personalized medicine. Some speculated that the science was too hard, and that companies wouldn’t consider developing medicines for such small patient populations.

This was never true. A study sponsored by the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) demonstrated continued momentum and growth in the pipeline:

  • 42 percent of new medicines in the pipeline have the potential to be personalized medicines.
  • 73 percent of cancer medicines in the pipeline have this potential as well
  • Biopharmaceutical companies have nearly doubled their R&D investment in personalized medicines over the past five years, and expect to increase their investment by an additional one-third in the next five years.
  • Biopharmaceutical researchers forecast a 69 percent increase in the number of personalized medicines in development over the next five years.

Recent approvals have shown the fruits of this work.

Photo credit: The Hill

Photo credit: The Hill

In 2014, according to PMC, 20 percent of medicines approved were personalized, treating diseases like ovarian cancer, lung cancer and Gaucher disease, among others. These treatments promise to improve patients’ lives – and the health care system – by targeting the right medicine to each patient more quickly.

All parties still have a lot of work to do – but as was agreed at the event this week, there’s so much promise on this next health frontier, too.



If you missed the event or for more insights into what the participants were saying, read the summary of our #PersonalizedMedicine conversation.

Ieva M. Augstums

Ieva M. Augstums Ieva (YEH-vuh), Deputy Vice President of Public Affairs, joined PhRMA in 2014 and now oversees all branding and paid advertising, including PhRMA’s national multi-year GOBOLDLY campaign. She reported on the 2008 financial crisis and other financial market news during ten years as a journalist at the Dallas Morning News and the Associated Press, then directed national campaigns at a Washington-based strategic communications and brand consulting firm. A native Nebraskan, Ieva is a proud mother of two, dreams of opening a paperie and never passes up an opportunity to lace up for a rave run.

Topics: Personalized Medicine

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