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Response Screening

Screening patients for gene variants that could affect their ability to breakdown or respond to certain drug treatments could not only improve clinical outcomes, but could have the potential decrease healthcare costs, the Economist writes.

Data from the UK's 100,000 Genomes Project, it notes, have indicated that nearly everyone harbors at least one such gene variant affecting drug treatment response. Further, it says that people over the age of 70 in the UK have a 70 percent chance of taking a drug whose effectiveness or safety is affected by their genes.

Because of this, the Economist says that an increasing number of hospitals and health systems are beginning programs to test patients for variants that may affect or inform what drug treatments they should take. That way, adverse drug events and associated hospitalizations could be avoided by switching patients to other treatment regimens, it says.

But testing, the Economist adds, is expensive to do on a large scale, as a 50-gene panel in the Netherlands costs about $200 while a 40-gene panel in the UK ranges between $130 and $195 It notes that studies like PREPARE are poised to give results to address that cost-benefit question.