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Pharmacogenomics. 2003 Mar;4(2):107-12.

Privacy issues in personalized medicine.

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Stanford University School of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, 300 Pasteur Drive, MC5236, Stanford, CA 94305-5236, USA.


Pharmacogenomics is the emerging study of why individuals respond differently to drugs. It aims to replace the current 'one size fits all' therapeutic approach with 'personalized medicine' that will use pharmacogenomic tests to predict drug response. In a simple conceptualization, these tests challenge privacy as a result of two factors: how comprehensive is the test and how is the access to samples or digital information controlled. Point-of-care tests are likely to be limited in scope, fit seamlessly into medical records and do not raise qualitatively new ethical and privacy challenges. In order to define practically relevant pharmacogenomic predictive patterns however, large-scale clinical trials and research on human specimens will be required, resulting in large databases of genomic information. The genomic scans' magnitude, stability, implications to kin and ease of dissemination together represent a qualitatively different challenge compared to traditional, self-limited and often temporally transient medical information.

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