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The microeconomics of personalized medicine: today's challenge and tomorrow's promise


'Personalized medicine' promises to increase the quality of clinical care and, in some cases, decrease health-care costs. Despite this, only a handful of diagnostic tests have made it to market, with mixed success. Historically, the challenges in this field were scientific. However, as discussed in this article, with the maturation of the '-omics' sciences, it now seems that the major barriers are increasingly related to economics. Overcoming the poor microeconomic alignment of incentives among key stakeholders is therefore crucial to catalysing the further development and adoption of personalized medicine, and we propose several actions that could help achieve this goal.

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Figure 1: Not all diagnostic tests are cost-cutting for payers.
Figure 2: Markers for disease prevention are least cost-effective for programmes with a high patient turnover.
Figure 3: Impact of companion diagnostics on development and commercial value for pharmaceuticals.
Figure 4: Scientific potential and economic attractiveness for companion diagnostics development across therapeutic areas.
Figure 5: Sensitivity analysis for factors affecting the commercial potential of a company developing a molecular diagnostic.


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Correspondence to Philip Ma.

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Davis, J., Furstenthal, L., Desai, A. et al. The microeconomics of personalized medicine: today's challenge and tomorrow's promise. Nat Rev Drug Discov 8, 279–286 (2009).

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