Fine-Tuning Drugs to Match Our Genes - What are the Implications for Health Care Costs and Treatments?

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how inherited variations in genes dictate a person's reaction to a drug. In this 2004 to 2005 project, Louis F. Rossiter, PhD, and other researchers from the College of William & Mary Center for Public Policy Research, examined how pharmacogenomics fits within the current health care market.

This project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO). HCFO supports policy analysis, research, evaluation and demonstration projects that provide public and private decision leaders with usable and timely information on health care policy and financing issues.

Key Findings

  • The researchers reported the following findings:

    • Few pharmacogenomics products are available; however, many more are in the premarket stage of approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
    • The pharmaceutical business model, which benefits most from high-volume drug sales to as many patients as possible, is a major challenge to the pharmacogenomic model, which relies on ruling out patients who would be adversely affected by a drug.
    • The current cost-containment environment and the absence of a blockbuster pharmacogenomic product may hinder future private and public funding of these products and services.