Send to

Choose Destination
Addiction. 2017 Dec;112(12):2086-2094. doi: 10.1111/add.13818. Epub 2017 Apr 21.

Precision medicine and pharmacogenetics: what does oncology have that addiction medicine does not?

Author information

Center for Studies of Addiction, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, Crescenz VAMC, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



Precision, personalized or stratified medicine, which promises to deliver the right treatment to the right patient, is a topic of international interest in both the lay press and the scientific literature. A key aspect of precision medicine is the identification of biomarkers that predict the response to medications (i.e. pharmacogenetics). We examined why, despite the great strides that have been made in biomarker identification in many areas of medicine, only in oncology has there been substantial progress in their clinical implementation. We also considered why progress in this effort has lagged in addiction medicine.


We compared the development of pharmacogenetic biomarkers in oncology, cardiovascular medicine (where developments are also promising) and addictive disorders.


The first major reason for the success of oncologic pharmacogenetics is ready access to tumor tissue, which allows in-vitro testing and insights into cancer biology. The second major reason is funding, with cancer research receiving, by far, the largest allocation by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during the past two decades. The second largest allocation of research funding has gone to cardiovascular disease research. Addictions research received a much smaller NIH funding allocation, despite the major impact that tobacco use, alcohol consumption and illicit drug use have on the public health and healthcare costs.


Greater support for research on the personalized treatment of addictive disorders can be expected to yield disproportionately large benefits to the public health and substantial reductions in healthcare costs.


Addiction medicine; cardiovascular medicine; oncology; personalized medicine; pharmacogenetics; precision medicine; stratified medicine

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center