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Debate Series

The 15th of October 2019 the first event in the new ‘Debate series’ from the Personalized Medicine program of the Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute took place. The title of this debate was “Pharmacogenetics; reality or dream?”. Clinical Pharmacologist Pierre Bet gave an interesting introduction to the subject of pharmacogenetics: the study and application of genetic information to predict drug response. Next, it was up to Martina Cornel, Prof. of community genetics and public health genomics, to share her point of view. After these introduction talks, general practioner, prof. Henk van Weert, and Health Technology Assessment (HTA) consultant Anke Hövels joined to start the debate. Prof. van Weert brought to notice that GPs do not have sufficient pharmacogenetic knowledge. Moreover, GPs have questions about what labs will do with the samples and DNA-data. Privacy related matters were brought up several times during the debate, such as questions around where the data should be stored, and who should have access to this data. Additionally, the audience questioned whether patients are able and willing to deal with pharmacogenetic information. A general problem with screening is that the relevance of the information (actionability) and the reliability (does it not give more insecurity?) need to be weighted. Anke Hövels emphasized that evaluating cost-effectiveness of pharmacogenetic testing is needed, since budgets will need to be allocated. She however questioned whether clinicians can and should be responsible to evaluate this allocative value, or perhaps their primary responsibility is the best care for their patients.

All in all, it was an interesting debate where the pros and cons of pharmacogenetics were thoroughly discussed. The Debate series of the Personalized Medicine Program will be continued next spring, with a discussion on alternative methods for evaluating healthcare for different groups of patients, like n=1 studies.

Please click here to stay updated about the upcoming debates!