Rising prices for new targeted therapeutics threatens their own success

August 14, 2015

One cancer drug alone could wipe out Canada’s total budget of $12B for prescription drugs. Can this last? Drug companies bringing out new targeted therapies for rare disorders are asking, and getting, eye-popping prices. Examples include Kalydeco® for one type of Cystic Fibrosis, reported to cost CAD$300,000 per year, or the recently marketed Solaris® for…

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Can personalized cancer care be cost-effective?

August 14, 2015

A study of personalized cancer care in action found that this approach not only saved money but resulted in better outcomes. Such personalized cancer treatment is available here in Ontario. A small study by Intermountain Healthcare, in Salt Lake City, compared the costs of using personalized medicine in cancer patients with late stage, metastatic disease….

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Panel finds that access to health data should be a priority

July 16, 2015

An expert panel formed by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) has made five recommendations for improving access to health and health-related data while balancing privacy. The CCA was tasked by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to review the current state of knowledge regarding timely access to health and “health-related” (i.e. social determinants of…

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Can your family doctor help you understand and use genetic technologies?

July 16, 2015

The use of genetics in healthcare is evolving rapidly, yet family doctors and other primary caregivers get little training in genetics. A new Ontario-based website aims to overcome this. Innovations in genomic medicine are presenting new challenges for primary caregivers. What is the family doctor’s next step when a patient comes in who wants to…

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Using genetic information to guide prescribing antidepressant medications.

July 16, 2015

Genetic testing of drug metabolism genes may help personalize the selection of antidepressant medication. While not quite coming out to recommend the testing itself, an expert panel has recommended the use of such test results if they exist. An expert panel has just released guidelines on how to use genetic information when prescribing the most…

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Personalized treatment of Hepatitis C

July 16, 2015

Your Hepatitis C infection could be cured – if you knew that you had it. Ontario recently approved reimbursement of the drug Harvoni® for treatment of the Hepatitis C (HCV) genotype 1 virus. Harvoni® “offers cure rates between 94 and 99%, reduces the incidence of side effects and shortens the duration of treatment to as…

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deCODE Genetics shows the precision of population-scale sequencing projects

June 16, 2015

deCODE Genetics CEO Kari Stefansson recently announced that “We have insights into all living, and some dead, Icelanders… At the push of a button, we could find all the women with mutations in the BRCA2 breast cancer gene.” Mutant BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are highly predictive of breast and other cancers and women with such…

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How can personalized medicine improve the use of health care dollars?

June 16, 2015

The Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) has recently released an important and informative white paper discussing how to achieve a balanced approach to the adoption of personalized medicine technologies that reflects the pressures on healthcare spending, improving patient outcomes and fostering innovation. The paper highlights two unique challenges that personalized medicine presents when considering payment models:…

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