alt textThe upcoming Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2016 Silicon Valley will honor a few exceptional leaders whom have played, and continue to play, a tremendously critical role in shaping our healthcare system, changing it from a general population approach to a personalized and patient-centered care model. Among those leaders to receive an award and give a keynote is Dr. RogerPerlmutter (President, Merck Research Laboratories). He is credited with transforming two R&D organizations and for the development of ground breaking, new therapies. Recently at Merck he showed remarkable expertise and skillful leadership in expediting the FDA approval process for the PD-1 drug Keytruda.

Earlier this month we asked Dr. Perlmutter about his vision of personalized medicine and its impact on the pharmaceutical industry, specifically changing trends in clinical trials, and healthcare in general. Some key highlights are summarized below:

Personalized medicine’s impact on the drug discovery process:

RP: Personalized medicine has been part of the drug discovery process for a very long time, mainly in the context of pharmacogenomics related to the study of drug-drug interactions. There has been an evolving process towards a more personalized approach by looking for better and more active compounds that can be used in individuals with specific genetic backgrounds.The industry thus is clearly adjusting, but at the same time is wary, for the most general reason – and perhaps the most important reason – because it is an industry. If medicine becomes too personalized,when we pick a therapy specifically for the person in question, then it is a process that cannot easily be industrialized due to its reduced scale and associated uncertainties in the regulatory pathway.

The biggest hurdles in making personalized medicine a reality:

RP: We have to ask:“should personalized medicine become a reality for the majority of the population?” “I believe we would all be perfectly comfortable if the development of new therapies took a non-personalized approach, provided that the resulting drugs were broadly effective and safe. A good example is the class of cardiovascular drugs aimed at lowering low-density lipoprotein-associated cholesterol that have proven to be both safe and effective. There is no need to build individual statins for each individual.
On the other hand when people are truly sick, it is important that the entire context of the illness is understood including components of genetic susceptibility as well as environmental factors. For this reason, for the majority of the population we have to develop drugs that have very big therapeutic indices, with very few adverse effects, and a large therapeutic impact.

To hear more from Dr. Perlmutter and 200+ key figures, join us at PMWC 2016 Silicon Valley (Jan. 24-27); see full program here:

Nearly sold out, registration details here