One of the biotech pioneers behind the new generation of targeted medical treatments believe that the approach holds the potential to save the NHS billions of pounds. And with a solid pipeline of new biotechnologies and treatments coming through, as well as continued and rapid advances in the field, those savings can be expected to become even greater over the years and decades ahead.
The prediction is undoubtedly music to the ears of the UK’s cash-strapped National Health Service. Its funding sucks up a huge proportion of overall government spending. In Scotland spending on the NHS could rise to account for a massive half of the devolved government’s total budget. However, those who of course stand to benefit most are the future patients of the country’s clinics and hospitals.
Medicine is thought to be starting its greatest revolution since the discovery of penicillin introduced antibiotics. Targeted medicine means treatments that are tailored to the particular patient rather than giving them general treatments that are more effective for some than others. Targeted treatments take into account a range of personal specifics from genetics to overall health and physical condition or any other ailments that may also be simultaneously present, and other medicines being taken to treat those.
Dame Anna Dominiczak, regius professor of medicine at the University of Glasgow, one of the pioneers of targeted treatments, has recently commented on the huge cost efficiencies that precision medicine will lead to. Applying the methodology used by a recent study by the US National Academy of Sciences, Dame Dominiczak projects that the use of precision medicine could save the NHS in Scotland alone £1.5 billion over the first five years of widespread adoption. That figure is further extrapolated to £5.3 billion over 10 years and £73 billion over 50 years. That is the equivalent to five times NHS Scotland’s current annual budget.
Scotland has become a global leader in the development of precision medicine research and development and its devolved government continues to invest heavily in the sector. £4.2 million will be invested in genomics research over 3 years with the aim to improve the precision of patient diagnosis. £8 million is also to be invested in the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre. The Centre’s role will be to coordinate precision medicine programmes across NHS Scotland.
Perhaps the British government in Westminster should take note!