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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

AACC Issues Position Statement on Personalized Medicine

Published August 8, 2015 10:14 PM by Glen McDaniel

The AACC recently issued a position statement on personalized medicine(PM). Much has been written about the emergence of a more individualized approach to medicine.  Patients often present with a variety of symptoms for the same disease and react differently to the same treatment.


The laboratory will play an increasingly important role in personalized medicine.


The exciting thing for Medical Laboratory Science is that there is a scientific (usually genetic or genomic) explanation for how patients react to various medications. The presence or absence of  a gene often influences  metabolism or overall sensitivity. Types and dosages of several medications are often customized for patients with diabetes, cancer, coagulopathies and the like. In other cases, a gene could indicate a predisposition for developing a certain disease and so on.


Since MLS plays such a pivotal role in personalized medicine, AACC put forward certain positions in its statement. For one it suggests Congress should increase funding for more research in PM tests. They also urged the FDA not to adopt policies that would, in effect, stifle test innovation.


Reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid and private payers  should cover PM tests adequately under the Coverage with Evidence Development program. This is especially important since the increasing concentration on cost savings does not provide an incentive to adequately cover conditions that may affect only a relatively small subset of the patient population.


Another position is that laboratorians must assume the role of educating clinicians on the availability, advantages, limitations and interpretation of PM tests. Drawing from areas like clinical pharmacy the laboratory should work jointly to provide guidelines and algorithms for testing. They should consider producing reports with more interpretive guidelines.


As medicine advances, and as payers  increasingly concentrate on outcomes and evidence-based practice, I think we will find that laboratorians will have more opportunities. It is up to us to assume a more expanded role as these opportunities present themselves.


Very good article. I should point out that pharmacy is already moving in that direction aggressively. We are the experts on medication selection and usage. Physicians have pretty much accepted that fact now, especially when we made the Pharm D our practice entry degree.

We routinely suggest medications, adjust doses and sometimes actually drive treatment.

Laboratory testing is not our area of expertise. But I must say the laboratory has really not stepped up to the plate in the area of being experts in their own area. We use laboratory tests as baseline and in order to monitor treatment in a variety of  conditions.

We have the knowledge to understand lab tests but we have to educate ourselves while you guys should  be the experts. So we will use and even order lab tests. I for one would prefer if the lab partnered with us so we could be  a more effective and  robust team of professionals.

Jason Chu , Pharm D August 8, 2015 10:47 PM
Queens NY

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