Most pharmaceutical drugs only work for about half the people who take them because our DNA can inhibit them from functioning in our bodies.
Personalized medicine -- in which each person's individual genes are matched with appropriate pharmaceuticals -- might offer a solution. Joining "The Takeaway" to explain more is Andrew Pollack, a reporter for the "New York Times" and author of today's front page story on the topic.
Pollack explains personalized medicine: "All medicine is personalized to some extent ... but this would go another step, and try to use mainly genetic testing to figure out which drug would be best for which patient; which would have the greatest effectiveness, and which drugs should be avoided by particular patients because they have a higher risk of side effects."
According to Pollack, the FDA is interested in bringing genetic variables into determining the effectiveness of drugs; however pharmaceuticals are more reluctant: "The big worry they have is that, if their drug is only to be given to someone who has a particular genetic variant, that limits the sales of the drug; they'd rather sell it to everyone, even if it only works for some of the people. However, I should point out that this is starting to change. The drug companies are starting to realize that in some cases they won't be able to get a drug approved, or they won't be able to get insurers to pay for the drug, unless it's better targeted at people for whom the drug would work."
"The Takeaway" is PRI's new national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.