Personalized Medicine may sound like just another marketing ploy modeled on monogrammed towels: barely one step up from gimmicky e-mails that greet you by name (and sometimes, inadvertently, by strange mash ups of your e-mail address).
Though it may take more than a decade to find its place in healthcare delivery, personalized medicine is a revolution built from the ground, um, body, up. It’s medicine that’s literally based on the specificity of the cells in your own body rather than the generalized conception that bodies are mostly alike. The theory that one person’s body chemistry behaves like another’s turns out to be very flawed.
Writing for the New York Times, Andrew Pollack details new evidence that, “whatever the disease, drugs work for only about half the people who take them. Not only is much of the nation’s approximately $300 billion annual drug spending wasted, but countless patients are being exposed unnecessarily to side effects.”
The article, Patient’s DNA May Be Signal to Tailor Medication, goes on to discuss how current methods of evaluation “comparing the effectiveness of different treatments” prove that some treatments work for more people than others do. To date there has been little interest and less transparency in how limited is the percentage of people for whom a drug is actually effective:
Many policy experts are calling for more studies to compare the effectiveness of different treatments. One drawback is that such studies tend to be “one size fits all,” with the winning treatment recommended for everybody. Personalized medicine would go beyond that by determining which drug is best for which patient, rather than continuing to treat everyone the same in hopes of benefiting the fortunate few.
The ramifications of this news are far-reaching. Considering its impact on our understanding of addiction, obesity, depression, and anxiety, let alone autoimmune diseases, means that effective innovation in medicine will certainly be a revolution — one based in your own body.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.