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HHS Secretary Leavitt Discloses Plans to Place Greater Emphasis on Personalized Medicine

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Department of Health and Human Services is developing an agenda that will put extra emphasis on the development of personalized medicine, and will institute initiatives to ensure that genetic tests are safe and accurate, HHS secretary Mike Leavitt said in a speech today.
Speaking during the Personalized Medicine Coalition’s annual meeting, Leavitt also said the initiative would control access to federal research, build a network that would pool national health care data, and ensure that new technologies and gene-based medical information are used appropriately.
During the speech, made at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Leavitt heralded pharmacogenomics in general as the future of medicine.
“Personalized health care will combine the basic scientific breakthroughs of the human genome with computer-age ability to exchange and manage data that will give us the ability to deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time – every time,” Leavitt said in a statement.
HHS said the initiative has three main goals: to review structures for “ensuring that genetic tests are accurate, valid, and useful” by seeing to it that HHS departments know their assignments in this area; by developing “consistent policies” to guide HHS agencies in managing “access to and security of federally supported research”; and by creating a “network of networks” that pulls together health care information from “the nations major health data repositories” to “enable researchers to match treatments and outcomes.”
Leavitt said HHS is funding personalized health care projects with $277 million in fiscal 2007, and said that support is proposed to increase to $352 million in fiscal 2008.
The HHS already has an Office of Personalized Medicine and an advisory panel that meets regularly to consult and advise on gene-based medical issues.
The Personalized Medicine Coalition is a group of companies and other entities from the health care field. The coalition’s president and chairman, Wayne Rosenkrans of AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, said the group is “deeply appreciative” of Leavitt’s leadership “as he makes personalized medicine a national priority”:
The group said its goals are to promote “fair and equitable” payment for diagnostics that promote their advancement, passage of the Genetic Information Non Discrimination Act, and programs to teach providers about new molecular medical approaches.
Additional information, including details about how genomic information can support personalized health care, can be found here.

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