SAN FRANCISCO, June 20 (GenomeWeb News) - Drug and diagnostic makers must share more of their outcomes data from pharmacogenomic studies before targeted medicine can catch on more broadly, a health economist said yesterday during a plenary session at this year's Beyond Genome conference, held here this week.
A limited supply of data linking pharmacogenomic research with outcomes is one of the key reasons why the discipline hasn't caught on in the way some tool vendors, drug makers, and healthcare providers had expected, Stephanie van Bebber of the University of California, San Francisco, said during her presentation.
In order for targeted medicine to become more widely used --- which means widely approved by regulators and reimbursed by insurers --- drug makers must "identify and share data" and "continue to move forward through interdisciplinary collaborative models in order that we gain a shared understanding of each other's data needs," she said.
In 2002 van Bebber and colleague Kathryn Phillips, both of whom represent the Program in Pharmacogenomics and Population Screening at UCSF, authored pioneering research that looked at the economics of pharmacogenomics. One paper, published in the December 2004 in Pharmacogenomics and chronicled in GenomeWeb News sister publication Pharmacogenomics Reporter, blamed a paucity of economic data studying the cost effectiveness of pharmacogenomics on drug discovery.
These kinds of studies "may help guide the development of drug-diagnostic combinations and speed their adoption in the clinic --- and might prove useful to payors seeking lower prices --- but there is a relative dearth of them today," Phillips and van Bebber said at the time.
"There are few clinical applications of pharmacogenomics that are currently very widely used," they said. "Until we demonstrate that it could have value, people are going to be reluctant to pursue it."
Perhaps not coincidentally, van Bebber's Beyond Genome talk today followed a presentation by Ellen Feigal, director of Medical Devices and Imaging at the Critical Path Institute, who mentioned two recent pharmacogenomic products that were widely lauded when they were released but that quickly flopped and became poster children for the discipline's immaturity: AstraZeneca's lung cancer drug Iressa and Roche's drug-metabolism diagnostic AmpliChip.
Today, van Bebber, who spoke on behalf of Phillips at Beyond Genome, said another factor contributing to the slow adoption of targeted medicine is the lack of data linking pharmacogenomics methodologies with outcomes. "Economics is not the be-all, end-all," she said.