After a decade of hype and expectancy, personalized medicine is still in the process of "becoming." The science is there,
but it's still in the process of being perfected. With new entrants such as Pfizer's Selzentry for CCR5 trophic HIV, and the
relabeling of Warfarin to include genomic-dosing data, the industry is moving beyond the mere promise of targeted therapies—and
thankfully, moving the discussion beyond oncology and the overhyped Herceptin case.
New York Times columnist Olivia Judson recently asked: So why hasn't personalized medicine yet hit it big? In part, it may be a simple matter
of timing. In a Spectrum report, one industry commentator estimated that "[i]n 10 years, about 20 to 25 percent of new products
in the pipeline will depend to some degree on a related test."
The greater problem, and perhaps the biggest barrier to realizing the promise of personalized medicine, might be perceptions
about the potential of these drugs held by the pharma industry itself. Most companies have a difficult time seeing therapies
targeted toward specific genotypes—which depend on diagnostics to guide prescribing decisions—as anything more than a way
to enhance R&D productivity within the currently challenged "one-size-fits-all" model of drug development.
The Confidence to Prescribe
Somewhere along the way, the pharmaceutical industry decided that the market segmentation implicit in targeted therapies necessarily
translates into fewer patients and, therefore, reduced returns. But in reality, personalized medicine has far greater potential
and much broader applicability than just an R&D enhancement. The industry needs to overcome the divergent business models
between pharma and the diagnostic industry, and learn how to harness the marketing dynamics embedded and largely unexplored
within personalized medicine.
Pharma companies can go beyond viewing personalized medicine as just an R&D productivity tool to understanding how it can
reshape market dynamics, alter a drug's marketing trajectory, and drive sales—possibly even in the face of generics competition.
In fact, if managed and positioned correctly, tailored therapeutics can even offer a return on investment (ROI) equal to drugs
developed under the one-size-fits-all model.