Policy Issues in the Development of Personalized Medicine in Oncology: A Workshop

When: June 8, 2009 - June 9, 2009 (8:00 AM Eastern)
Where: National Academy of Sciences Building (Lecture Room) • 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20418

Topics Diseases, Quality and Patient Safety, Biomedical and Health Research, Health Services, Coverage, and Access, Public Health
Activity: National Cancer Policy Forum
Board: Board on Health Care Services

The National Cancer Policy Forum held a public workshop addressing policy issues related to the development of personalized medicine for cancer treatment.  Personalized medicine can be defined as medical care that it is based on the biological characteristics of individual patients.  By using genomics and proteomics, individuals can be classified into subpopulations based on their susceptibility to a particular disease or response to a specific treatment.  They may then be given preventive or therapeutic interventions that will be most effective given their particular characteristics.

In oncology, personalized medicine has the potential to be especially influential in patient treatment because of the complexity and heterogeneity of each form of cancer.  However, the current classifications of cancer are not as useful as they need to be for making treatment decisions; current cancer classification evolved from morphology and may be misleading because it does not take into account abnormalities at the molecular level.   As a result, treatment needs to evolve towards a focus on targeted treatments based on individual characterizations of the disease.
Although personalized medicine has great potential to improve patient care and treatment in cancer, there are a number of policy issues that must be resolved and clarified before personalized medicine can reach its full potential. These include: 1) technological hurdles, 2) regulatory hurdles and 3) reimbursement hurdles.  Each of these issues were explored in depth at the workshop.

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