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Personal Review

Personalized medicine may be developing at the cost of public health programs, a conflict that Donna Dickenson, an emeritus professor at the University of London, calls "me medicine versus we medicine" in both a new book and in a New Scientist opinion piece.

Dickenson notes in the New Scientist that, according to some estimates, personalized genetic tests have been recommended to some 4 percent of patients in the US, and funds continue to pour into that area. At the same time, she says, public health programs are losing funding. "Of course it would be nice if we could afford both, but in reality there's a growing risk that 'me' will edge out 'we,'" she says.

While she notes that personalized medicine has been useful in tying cancer mutations to certain treatments, she argues that the advances have not been as effective as hoped and will likely be expensive and further strain healthcare systems.

"If we do embrace personalized medicine, it should only be after a thorough review of the evidence and careful analysis of the social landscape in which we're making that choice," Dickenson says.

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