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Will personalised medicine be affordable?



Photo: Tobias Schwerdt / German Cancer Research Center

Experts disagree on the economic impact that personalised medicine is likely to have on the health and welfare system and on individual patients. On the one hand, high-tech diagnostic tools, the manufacture of medicines for smaller groups of patients, and more intensive medical consultation are likely to lead to increased costs. On the other hand, it is possible that more precise diagnoses might reduce the amount of non-targeted treatment, thus cutting costs. It is believed that improved prevention and early detection measures, along with more targeted use of medication, will probably take some of the burden off the health and welfare system as people will spend less time away from work for health reasons.
Ultimately, personalised medicine will open up new prospects, and individuals will have greater scope for taking decisions regarding their own health. This is especially true when it comes to recognising health risks and choosing prevention and therapy procedures. This will create the opportunity for more self-determination, but it may also be the case that society comes to expect individuals to take on greater responsibility for their health.

Saskia Blank of the Ideas 2020 team based her answer to this question on the Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s individualised medicine action plan (February 2013). External Link (in German)