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Published September 22, 2011, 11:32 AM

Doctor: Personalizing medicine cost effective

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Customizing medicine based on a patient's genes will reduce health care costs because it will improve preventative care and reduce prescription trial and error, the president of Sanford Research USD said Wednesday.

By: Kristi Eaton, Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Customizing medicine based on a patient's genes will reduce health care costs because it will improve preventative care and reduce prescription trial and error, the president of Sanford Research USD said Wednesday.

Using genetics to personalize medicine is not a part of daily clinical medicine, but it soon will be, Dr. Eugene Hoyme said.

“The way to think of genomic medicine, or personalized medicine, is to give the right medicine to the right person at the right time,” said Hoyme, the keynote speaker at the South Dakota Biotechnology Association meeting.

Physicians always have thought they were personalizing medicine to the patient's needs based on an evaluation, but in reality, Hoyme said, there was a standard protocol doctors followed.

“Let's say that you come in and have hypertension. There are probably a hundred different reasons for why you could have hypertension, some of which are genetic. In the past, you'd have a protocol. A patient with hypertension you'd start them on this drug. If that didn't work, then you'd move them to drug B. If that didn't work, you'd move to drug C,” he said, adding that this prolongs the period of time it takes doctors to get the patient's blood pressure under control.

If doctors know the genes leading to hypertension and what drug will best treat it, then they can prescribe that drug at the start, cutting down on cost and time, he said.

This also will reduce adverse reactions to new medicines, which could also help with patient compliance in taking the medications, said Hoyme, who is the chief medical officer of Sanford Children's Hospital.

“I think it will in the long run reduce the overall cost of health care because the cost of doing this genome sequencing for whatever you're looking for will be so low, and the savings in terms of improving health will be so great it will really bring down the overall cost of health care,” he said.

About 70 researchers and representatives from the health care, agriculture and pharmaceutical industries gathered at the sixth-annual summit in Sioux Falls.

Other topics covered during the daylong event included human health, food and agriculture and renewable energy biotechnology.

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