I'm currently reading Francis Collins's new book, The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine, which describes the revolution we are in the midst of regarding personalized medicine. It's fascinating to see all in one place the array of insights we've gained through decades of research into the genetic influence on disease, and perhaps more importantly treatment. I recommend the read, and its predecessor book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.
Meanwhile, it's not all smooth sailing for pharmacogenomics. Walgreens is getting a little flak from FDA for the retail offering of direct-to-consumer genomics services from Pathway Genomics. I'm reminded of the expression on risk taking—"You can't get to second base without taking your foot off first." I applaud Walgreens for testing the waters with this initiative. As Collins suggests in his book, in 20 years we'll wonder what took us so long to do more genetic testing.
We also saw on the news recently that 23andMe, a company that provides genetic testing for consumers, recently disclosed a "lab mix-up that resulted in as many as 96 customers receiving the wrong data." There are a number of these companies evolving, and there will be challenges as they roll out their services. This mix-up will not be the last. We'll have to sort out the best ways to manage the imperfections in the processess as we work toward optimizing the utility of the technology and science.
What's the take-away? The science is maturing at an increasing rate. As a profession, we pharmacists need to stay in the game if we want to play a meaningful role in future health care.