Is Designer Medicine bad news for Big Pharma?

Is personalized, or “designer”, medicine bad news for giant pharmaceutical companies?  Investment week seems to think that the efficiency of personalized medicine poses a threat. 

According to Quartz magazine, medical misdiagnoses is the third leading cause of death in the United States of America.  “What if a robot physician was more likely to give you a correct diagnosis [than a doctor].” it asks.

There are well documented cases of malpractice in the news, and it is possible that a mechanical doctor won’t be as money motivated as some humans are.  Those who practice medicine only for money, fortunately, are rare.  And who’s to say that a robot’s programmers won’t make a few intentional errors for economic motives?

The real advantage of so-called “designer medicine” is not that it replaces doctors.  Rather, the lowered price of genetic mapping adds to the tools that doctors can use to personalize their diagnosis.  If a skilled doctor has access to your genetic makeup, the doctor’s more likely to know what is ailing you, and therefore how to treat it.

So, the robot won’t put the doctor out of a job.  But, it could reduce the number of wrongly prescribed medicines.  And, fewer medicines that are wrongly prescribed might mean fewer medicines purchased overall.

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