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“Personalized medicine” renamed “precision medicine”

Most people around the world were happy about U.S. President Obama’s announcement of his Precision Medicine Initiative. But more than a few were also a wee bit confused. Precision Medicine, what the heck is that?

It’s a new term for the concept previously called Personalized Medicine. The new term is just a bit more, um, precise, although the concept is still heavily personalized.

Confused yet? That’s perfectly understandable.

Think of it this way: precision medicine is an expansion of personalized medicine.

Previously personalized medicine was largely thought of in terms of matching medication choices to a person’s own DNA for maximum effect. Side effects and adverse reactions are also diminished this way.

It was a matter of personalizing the medicine choices, be they traditional medicines or new genetic-based drugs, to each patient. There are lots of articles here at Genome Alberta if you want to learn more about the approach. You might want to start with my earlier post "The Great "We vs Me" Personalized Medicine Debate." 

Despite the many advances in personalized medicine, it didn’t always translate well at the patient level for a multitude of reasons, many of which I explained earlier in another post “Gene Patents, Physician Mistakes, and Other Mishaps Shaping Personalized Medicine Outcomes.”

I’m happy to report a few of those issues are being addressed now but, unfortunately, others are still hanging around fouling things up. And, of course, a few new challenges appeared on the scene too. You’ll find information on those (as well as few suggestions on how we might address them) in another post titled “From Precision Medicine Springs Need for Data Diagnosticians and Formulary Eradication.”

Precision medicine takes into account a bit more than the term personalized medicine originally meant. Precision medicine is defined as an approach considering “individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles,” or at least that’s how President Obama explains it. No one is quibbling about it because, yes, it’s important to consider the patient’s environment and lifestyle in the personalized medicine formula too!

So now you know! Personalized medicine and precision medicine are essentially the same thing in that they seek the very same outcome: finding the best possible medicine and therapy for each and every individual patient.

Now what could possibly be more precisely personal than that?

“Personalized medicine” renamed “precision medicine”

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