White House Details ‘Precision Medicine’ Initiative – By Kimberly Leonard Jan. 30, 2015

Government health officials offer specifics about new personalized medicine funding.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest answers questions Thursday about President Barack Obama’s upcoming budget proposal, which includes funding for personalized medicine.

Scientists who mapped the human genome have been waiting a dozen years to do something with their findings.

That is why many health care practitioners cheered when they heard President Barack Obama mention “precision medicine” among the goals for his administration during his State of the Union Address. Health care overall did not receive much a spotlight during the speech, but personalized medicine did.

[MORE: Hospitals, Doctors Cheer Obama’s Call for Personalized Medicine]

Details about the plan emerged during a White House event Friday morning. “It comes at a critical moment in time when we have huge opportunities before us,” Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Thursday in a call with reporters.

Knowing what makes patients unique through the variations in their DNA would allow a doctor not only to be able to identify whether patients are likely to get a particular disease or condition – thereby helping them prevent it – but also to pinpoint which treatments will work.

While much attention has been focused on how health care is paid for through the Affordable Care Act, other government agencies are looking at how to make treatments better. The current way of approaching maladies uses trial and error – a process that can be frustrating, time-consuming and expensive for patients as they could undergo various methods of treatment without results or with difficult side effects for months or years. With information about their DNA, likely contained in an electronic medical record, scientists envision that doctors will be able to more easily determine what cures might work.

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