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New Coalition Launched to Advance Personalised Medicine

2004-10-28 - Washington, DC, USA: The growing momentum behind personalised medicine has taken a further step forward in recent days, with the formation of the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC). More than 20 leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostics and information technology companies, along with major academic centers and governmental agencies, have joined together to form this new organisation. Based in Washington, DC, the PMC is a non-governmental, non-profit group created to foster understanding and adoption of personalised medicine for the benefit of patients. Edward Abrahams, former Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association, has been appointed its Executive Director.

Personalised medicine involves the use of new methods of molecular analysis to better manage a patient's disease or predisposition towards a disease. It aims to achieve optimal medical outcomes by helping physicians and patients choose the disease management approaches likely to work best given a patient's unique genetic make-up, environment and lifestyle. Such approaches may include targeted molecular screening programs that more precisely diagnose diseases and their sub-types, thereby helping physicians select the type and dose of medication most likely to be safe and effective for each patient. A recent feature article outlined some of the issues surrounding personalized medicine.

"Personalized medicine is emerging rapidly as a major force in drug discovery and health care, and has numerous benefits for patients and the healthcare system. Because its potential impact is so far-reaching, it raises an array of issues, including patient and physician education, privacy and ethics, reimbursement, regulatory oversight, and intellectual property," said J. Brian Munroe, president of the PMC and vice president of government relations and public policy at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "The innovators and regulators in the field are taking a proactive role to support sound public policy that will accelerate the adoption of personalised medicine. The PMC brings together all the key stakeholders, fostering dialogue and education in an open and balanced environment," Munroe said. "We are particularly pleased that Dr. Abrahams is joining as Executive Director, bringing a vast amount of expertise to the PMC in the areas of policy, education and consensus-building."

The PMC Board has selected Edward Abrahams as Executive Director based on his extensive experience in industry, academia, and government. As former Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association, Dr. Abrahams managed all aspects of the Association, including public advocacy, media relations, and educational programs, tripling its size and revenues in three years. He also spearheaded the successful effort that led to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's investment of $200 million to commercialize biotechnology in that state. Previously, he had been Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations at the University of Pennsylvania, and also held a senior administrative position at Brown University. Before becoming a university lobbyist, Dr. Abrahams worked seven years for the United States Congress, including as a legislative assistant to Senator Lloyd Bentsen and as an economist for the Joint Economic Committee under the chairmanship of Congressman Lee Hamilton.

The PMC board of directors is composed of executives from Abbott Laboratories, Affymetrix, Inc, Amgen, Inc, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Genentech, Inc., Genomas LLC, Genomic Health, Inc., Hoffmann-LaRoche Ltd., IBM Corporation, Pfizer, Inc., and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health-National Human Genome Research Institute are also active in the PMC as ex-officio members.

The PMC has engaged diverse thought leaders and constituencies to initiate dialogue on a variety of topics such as: privacy laws and their implications for personalised medicine; the impact of personalised medicine on intellectual property; global developments in biorepositories; and the value proposition of emerging drugs and molecular based tests used for improved diagnosis, disease prevention, therapy selection and monitoring.

"Personalised medicine leads to the convergence of life sciences, health care and information technologies," noted Mike Svinte, vice president of IBM's Information Based Medicine unit. "The PMC will pool the insights and knowledge of multiple industries toward envisioning a future in which diagnosis, treatment and health care delivery will all change significantly."

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