Drug Companies Should Offer Free DNA Tests

Drug Companies Should Offer Free DNA Tests

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted June 19, 2007 in DNA Testing, DNA and Disease

Genetic testing is set to change the practice of medicine. In The New York Times today, Dr. Richard A. Friedman writes about personalized medicine for psychiatry. He believes:

  1. Direct-to-consumer advertising will become meaningless when consumers need to know their own genetic profile first.
  2. Drug reps will no longer be able to give doctors prescription information without taking into account genetic data.

taking medicine 1While Dr. Friedman’s prediction (wish?) that direct-to-consumer advertising and drug reps will no longer exist, I believe that pharmaceutical companies will get wise to direct-to-consumer genetic testing and add it to their arsenal. For example, they may decide to offer genetic testing for free if the customer agrees to take whichever one of their drugs is most compatible. Getting genetic info gratis is actually a good bargain for the consumer because the information can be used in the context of other treatment considerations.

Genetic information on customers would be a boon for drug companies as well. They could use that info to determine which drugs have the highest potential for profitability (based on the number of potential patients with specific genetic profiles) and fine tune the drugs in development. Once a person’s genetic profile is in the company database, they could personalize direct-to-consumer advertising either via email or direct mail. Could be a win-win situation for both the consumers and pharmaceutical industry as long as the genetic data are used only for improving people’s health.

As for the drug reps, maybe they could be trained to take DNA samples and when DNA genotyping becomes portable, they could do on-the-spot genetic testing in doctor’s offices. All courtesy of the drug company.

Any pharmaceutical companies reading? I just gave you a free 30 minute consult!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , medicine, health



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Comment by Steven Murphy MD

Thanks Hsien,
I can’t wait for even more “lab reps” as if drug reps didn’t take up enough of your time!

Comment by Hsien

hehehe You love it. I hear most of the drug reps are eye candy. ;)

Comment by David Bradley

Yep, pers-med will just mean even more reps, because there will be so many more drugs and all those test kits to sell to physicians.


Comment by Hsien

If those test kits are in nice bags, I’ll take one. :D

Comment by Derek Subscribed to comments via email

yes, the cost of DNA testing will drop precipitously over the next few years, so free testing for all patients will be a likely prospect, but the drug reps will still be there, even if it means that the “product name” they are selling has variants based on genetic results. For example, I think some treatents may be “customized” to one person (expensive), while others may simply require selecting from 10 or 12 “variants” of a drug (less expensive) – for either, the overall branding will remnain as strong and important as ever.

Comment by Hsien

Totally agree! I think it’s a positive development although I’m sure some privacy experts and ethicists will disagree.


[...] drug companies listened to me after all.* The International Serious Adverse Event Consortium, made-up of seven pharmaceutical [...]


[...] Kind of what I said – Drug Companies Should Offer Free DNA Tests. [...]


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