Personalized Medicine: The next health frontier

Ieva M. Augstums
Ieva M. Augstums October 23, 2015

Personalized Medicine: The next health frontier.

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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.

Topics: Personalized Medicine