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The JAMA Forum
January 14, 2020

Early Returns From the Era of Precision Medicine

Author Affiliations
  • 1Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics in the Department of Economics and Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
JAMA. 2020;323(2):109-110. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.20659

The era of precision medicine has arrived. A large share of new pharmaceuticals are tested and approved on the basis of biomarkers. Pharmacogenetics—the tailoring of drugs to patients based on 1 or more biomarkers—is used in conditions as diverse as HIV and thromboembolism.

Precision medicine raises hopes for patients and fears for those who try to ride herd on health care spending. Will patients finally live longer and healthier lives? Will society be able to afford it? Surprisingly, at this point, personalized medicine has had less effect on both health and medical spending than either its strongest backers hoped or its most apprehensive actuaries feared.