The coming revolution in personalised medicines

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by Mike Hannay MRPharmS

The decoding of the human genome has paved the way towards a silent revolution currently ongoing within the pharmaceutical industry; its name is personalised medicines and the effect this is set to have on the wider healthcare system within the next ten years is profound.

As a direct result of the human genome project the understanding of the genetic basis of disease has grown to a level which was unforeseen even 5-10 years ago. The implications for this on patient care are staggering, soon medicines will no longer be selected for patients according to empirical guidelines, but will be matched as a result of their individual genetic makeup. We will be able to select the best drug for that patient from within its class based on the accelerating body of evidence currently being acquired. Further tests carried out on specific metabolic processes coupled with precise in situ-drug formulation technologies such as 3D printing will allow for highly accurate dosing resulting in more optimal plasma levels, with a reduction in adverse drug reactions.

This may sound like science fiction, but the technology is already here, the first 3D printed medicine has recently been approved by the FDA, furthermore genomic sequencing costs have reduced steadily from $10 million in 2006 to around $1000 in 2016 and continue to decline, meaning it will soon be economically feasible for widespread application. The impact that these changes will have on the development, selection, optimisation and supply of medicines is difficult to understate.

Community pharmacies are in the best position to put personalised medicine into practice by facilitating the selection, optimisation and supply of personalised medicines; no other group of scientists or clinicians is better able to accomplish this, however this can only happen if the profession acts now to take on the knowledge and expertise needed to fit into this emerging care pathway.

What is required is for pharmacy educators to integrate the teaching of personalised medicines into their course material. The science behind medicines is at the heart of pharmacy education, and this is the reason the profession is respected as the authoritative source of information when it comes to the science of medicines. If this is to remain the case then pharmacy educators must keep abreast of these new changes and ensure that both new and current members of the profession are thoroughly informed on what they need to know, and how they can apply it.

I’ll be speaking at the RPS conference this year to outline these changes, the impact they’re set to have on the profession as a whole, and how best we can plan to be ready for them as they are unveiled in the coming years.

The RPS conference will be held in Birmingham, Sunday 4 September – Monday 5 September 2016. Find out more about key issues affecting pharmacy and how we can solve them.

To secure your place at the RPS 2016 Annual Conference visit:

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