This year, the Dutch Medicines Days 2014 (DMD) were predominated by the subject of personalised medicine. Medical doctors, researchers and delegates from insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies discussed implementation and innovative treatment methods considering this subject. The DMD is a congress on innovative drug research, hosted by the Federation for Innovative Drug Research in the Netherlands (FIGON).
On the second day of the DMD, a symposium was held on the implementation of whole genome sequencing in the Netherlands. The implementation of this technique would be a dream come true for many geneticists. In the scope of personalised medicine, it has become useful to obtain a genetic blueprint of every patient. Especially when sequencing devices become faster and cheaper, the moment is coming closer when these machines can be found at every hospital department. This also evokes questions – who decides what information is important for the patient’s health? The medical professional, the insurance provider or the patient himself? And do we have to screen for all genetical conditions? These questions illustrate a clear need for rules and regulations to prevent a large increase in whole genome sequencing.
The genetical screening of patients asks for a battle plan to centralise data, so large quantities of information can be compared and combined. To discuss these questions, a panel was formed existing of geneticists, policy makers and delegates from health insurance providers and patient associations. Led by Wouter Bos, president of the board of directors of the VUmc, Amsterdam, the panel discussed the implementation of whole genome sequencing in the Netherlands, the design of a central biobank, the associated privacy issues and the financial load on the Dutch healthcare system. At the end of the discussion, Bos recapitulated: “the setup of a central facility will result in a burden for our healthcare because infrastructure and overhead costs will be high. That is why we first need to look into implementation, investments and who will be in charge.” The symposium was closed with the presentation of a manifesto, containing the intention to implement whole genome sequencing in the most optimal way.
Another climax of this edition of the DMD was the presentation of the Galen awards. These awards are presented anually to one researcher and one drug that is the most innovative and meaningful according to a jury.
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