Most drugs do not work for a significant number of patients who take them. That is not because the drugs themselves are not good, but because the right treatment is not always matched appropriately to the needs of the patient. Better diagnostic tools and tests can
help overcome this problem. If drugs are better targeted to people who will benefit from their use, and not used needlessly on patients unlikely to benefit, then the effectiveness of medicine increases, harmful side-effects are reduced, and the overall
cost of health care will be reduced.
The best way to increase the value of diagnostic tests in guiding drug therapy is to co-develop the new diagnostic product along with the new drug product. With advances in pharmaceutical sciences and biotechnology, it is no longer necessary to follow the old
tradition of diagnostic tests being developed independently of drugs. In the past, most diagnostic companies developed tests for a patient population or a drug without input from drug development experts and without access to early phase clinical data. Now, the
most logical way forward is to benefit from the time and cost savings of a streamlined approach to diagnostic-therapeutic co-development, and pass on to patients the substantial treatment benefits that result from new knowledge and improved efficiency.
In addition to lowering the barriers for collaboration across traditional boundaries, and reducing the complexity of the regulatory review process to enable simultaneous review and approval of diagnostics linked to new therapeutics, new technology can play a major
role in bringing scientific progress to patients. Advances in DNA sequencing technology make high quality, low cost, and rapidly processed data possible, and these data can be used for direct impact on patient management. Advances in the technology of mass
spectrometry also have the potential to significantly improve data for diagnostic applications.
Ultimately, of course, companies are in business to make money. Fortunately for both companies and patients, by providing better disease treatment outcomes through effective co-development of therapeutics and diagnostics, there is plenty of profit potential and
plenty of potential for improvements in medical results to keep everyone happy.