$67.5 million being invested into personalized medicine
The federal government has announced it is investing $67.5 million into personalized medicine health care that will take into account a patient’s genetics and the nature of the illness before creating a treatment plan.
This kind of medicine looks at the patient’s illness, environment, and background before a treatment plan is implemented, which can lead to more effective and efficient treatments with less adverse drug reactions. For example, it would screen cancer patients to identify those for whom chemotherapy would not work.
The government’s hope is that health care in Canada will embody a system of predictive and preventive care.
“A one-size-fits-all treatment program really does not work and so as an individual Canadian citizen if I want the best treatment, understanding my genetic makeup will help me as a patient in terms of getting the right kind of care the first time around,” Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a statement.
If all goes as planned, results such as improved quality of life and cost savings across the health care system should be viable in three to four years.
Some point out that this investment has the potential to eliminate toxic and painful treatments that may not work for specific patients due to their condition or their genetic makeup.
“It’s really allowing us to find out information and characteristics of a person and his or her disease and allowing us to find the right treatment to give it back to the patient at the right time,” Dr. Lillian Siu, an oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, told CTV.
Others note that it will take complete cooperation between Ottawa and all provincial governments for it to work.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work, some compromising on the part of the provinces and the prime minister,” Roy Romanow, the former Saskatchewan premier and former Royal Commissioner on health care, told CTV’s National Affairs.
The press release stated that “In addition to saving on the costs of expensive drug treatments, this personalized treatment would prevent a great deal of suffering, while identifying and initiating earlier treatments that would be more effective.”
Oncology, heart disease, psychiatric disorders, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and obesity are areas where personalized medicine is expected to be most helpful.
The funding is to be split up as follows: Genome Canada will receive $40 million, Canadian Institute of Health Research will receive $22.5 million, and Cancer Stem Cell Consortium will receive $5 million. However, the money will only be handed out after the organizations have secured matching funding from other sources.