Personalized medicine is regarded as the next big thing in healthcare, but so far business models to make money in this field are limited. One example is Hamburg-based Indivumed which specializes on the support of pharma companies and research institutions with cancer biospecimens and related data and services generated under highly standardized conditions. Another one, argues Steve Dickman of CBTadvisors in his recent Boston Biotech Watch blog, might be genetic counseling for prospective parents.
Steve judges potential success of businesses in the personalized medicine space according to four criteria, asking whether the concept is 1) actionable, 2) cost-effective, 3) based on validated science, and 4) clinically meaningful.
Going through this list he comes to the conclusion that the business model of California-based Counsyl looks promising. For $698 per couple the company is offering prospective parents a one-price panel of SNP-based tests for more than 100 genetic diseases so that a couple can learn whether its offspring is at risk for these conditions.
So while it is easy to tick the boxes on 2, 3, and 4, the questions is actionability: what are the options for treatment, preventive action, or behavior?
This is the field we predict will be hotly debated, at least in Europe. Once a risk is detected, the options on the table are: refrain from conceiving a child and opt for adoption, or choose abortion in case the child is affected by the condition the risk was predicted for, or go for in vitro fertilization followed by preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
While many may not like the idea because it evokes memories of eugenics, reality shows that many people do want to know what their genes and their options are. Anyone dare to place a ban on it?