Foundation Medicine’s vice president of corporate communications & government affairs, Sue Hager, joined a lively panel discussion at the MassBio Annual Meeting on March 26, 2015 titled “Precision Medicine: Who’s Paying?” President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative earmarked $215 million in the 2016 budget for the development of databases, research efforts and treatments that personalize or “individualize” healthcare options based on a patient’s own genetic characteristics rather than the traditional “one size fits all” approach. Building on the excitement from this announcement, the panel focused on the progress in precision medicine to date and where it is going, with an emphasis on innovative companies and initiatives in Massachusetts. The panel, which was moderated by Accenture managing director Jeff Elton, featured other thought leaders in the industry including David Altshuler, EVP of global research and CSO at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Walter Carney, CSO and general manager of Nuclea Diagnostics.
This concept is a fitting and timely topic for Foundation Medicine, as we believe molecular information is one of the most powerful tools available for advancing precision medicine in cancer. We now recognize that cancer can be categorized by the underlying alterations in the tumor’s genome driving its growth, and not just by the location of cancer in the body as it has historically been classified. At Foundation Medicine, our tests are able to connect clinically relevant alterations to targeted therapies and clinical trials that could provide successful outcomes for patients.
Top of mind for the panelists were the priorities and imperatives to advance precision medicine. Ms. Hager relayed Foundation Medicine’s focus on harnessing the power of comprehensive genomic profiling to accelerate targeted drug development and support clinical treatment decision-making, as we previously discussed here. While there are certainly challenges ahead to drive adoption, secure reimbursement and affect policies regulating the industry, Ms. Hager and the panelists were aligned in the belief that with precision medicine as a top, national priority, it had the potential to change the healthcare landscape and the lives of millions of people struggling with disease.