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Difference between precision medicine and personalized medicine

How DTC genetic testing are changing the pharma industry.


There is a lot of overlap between the terms “precision medicine” and “personalized medicine.” According to the National Research Council, “personalized medicine” is an older term with a similar meaning to “precision medicine.” However, there was concern that the word “personalized” could be misinterpreted to imply that treatments and preventions are being developed uniquely for each individual; in precision medicine, the focus is on identifying which approaches will be effective for which patients based on genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The Council therefore preferred the term “precision medicine” to “personalized medicine.” However, some people still use the two terms interchangeably.

DTC Genetic testing:

A prominent example of a highly personalized test is direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing that has been proposed to improve health and prevent common diseases. In many ways, DTC genetic tests are the opposite of precision medicine. In spite of their deceptive appeal, they “deliver uncertain information and create patient expectations that may align poorly with evidence; clinical priorities; or, in some cases, the patient’s best interests.”

This is the case of tests like 23&Me that offer only a fraction of the information available in the human genome of an individual, more complete tests are available on the market (Whole Genome Sequencing) and they offer more complete informations to the customer.

What about pharmacogenomics?

Pharmacogenomics is a part of precision medicine.

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop effective, safe medications and doses that will be tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.

Most of the drugs that are currently available are “one size fits all,” but they don’t work the same way for everyone. It can be difficult to predict who will benefit from a medication, who will not respond at all, and who will experience negative side effects (called adverse drug reactions), in some cases the adverse reaction overpowers the beneficial effect of the drug.

Adverse drug reactions are a significant cause of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States. With the knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project, researchers are learning how inherited differences in genes affect the body’s response to medications. These genetic differences will be used to predict whether a medication will be effective for a particular person and to help prevent adverse drug reactions.

The field of pharmacogenomics is still in its infancy. Its use is currently quite limited, but new approaches are under study in clinical trials. In the future, pharmacogenomics will allow the development of tailored drugs to treat a wide range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and asthma.