Clarity on Rules of the Game
One tactic to address the low confidence threshold evidenced in the study is to add more context about the evolving regulatory
climate for genetic testing. This should at minimum help physicians understand actions taken to minimize the risk of misuse
of such information.
All agree that this issue is pivotal to winning patient acceptance of personalized medicine—an individual's genetic information
is what makes personalized medicine truly personal. Such data is rapidly becoming more accessible, with the cost of a whole
genomic-sequencing profile projected to drop to as low as $1,000—a price point "sweet spot" where consumer acceptance would
grow. Moreover, molecular diagnostic companies continue to innovate and develop genomics- and biomarker-based assays for use
across the spectrum of disease, from presymptomatic screening through treatment selection, including companion diagnostics.
Concerns about Misuse
The study showed that physicians readily accept the value of such information, with nearly nine in 10 agreeing that a patient's
genomic profile has a significant impact on their response to drug therapy. Yet precisely because of that, the group is worried
about the prospect that some parties may rely on genetic data to limit or deny care to patients or otherwise interfere with
the clinician/patient dialogue. Some 79 percent affirmed they were "somewhat" or "very" concerned about the potential for
Thus it is surprising to find that only one fifth of the physicians knew anything about the key legislative control against
misuse: the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Signed into law in May 2008, GINA prohibits discrimination
in health coverage and employment based on genetic information.
The industry can provide additional value through physician education on GINA. It could be part of a larger initiative on
genomics in general (perhaps in partnership with a physician medical association) or smaller in scale, for example, as a resource
available for sales representative use with physicians and their office staff.
Opportunity for Big Pharma
A key question arises from the conclusion that physicians must raise their learning curve on personalized medicine: From whom
do they wish to obtain that information? Can Big Pharma play a role?
The answer is yes. Although online and mobile content providers, as well as the emergence of social media, are giving physicians
opportunities to move beyond industry as a knowledge source, there is a strong interest in what industry has to say on genomics-based
medicine and molecular diagnostics.
When asked, "How interested would you be in receiving information related to genomics-based medicine from each of the following
resources?", 69 percent of physicians expressed interest in receiving such information from molecular diagnostic companies
and 74 percent from pharmaceutical companies (see table). This sizeable gap between where physicians currently get this type
of information (only 20 percent say it comes from Big Pharma) and where they would like to get it presents another opportunity
Gap between current and desired source of personalized healthcare information
New Life for the Sales Rep?
Perhaps even more encouraging were physicians' attitudes towards receiving such information from sales representatives. The
traditional role of the detailer is shifting. Companies should see the ability of the rep to provide this information as a
way to maintain the relevance of this function with those who still hold the key to prescribing. In fact, six out of 10 of
those surveyed endorsed this idea (see chart); seven in 10 in the case of diagnostic reps.
How interested are you in meeting with a sales rep?