Personalized Medicine: A Growing OpportunityBy Alfonso Núñez | Thu, 02/17/2022 - 12:46
In the past three to four years, the once-considered distant personalized or precision medicine and medical devices have become a reality for global healthcare systems. Mexico is no exception but to continue advancing this revolutionary technology, the country needs continued participation, said industry experts during the “Personalized, Precision Medicine and Devices” panel of Mexico Health Summit 2022.
Applications are numerous as therapies tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup can even prevent diseases. The sector has become one of the industry’s fastest growing areas and its current market value of US$52 billion is expected to quadruple by 2028 with a steady annual growth of 10 percent, explained Sandra Sánchez, President and CEO, PharmaAdvie.
There is a growing shift from reactive to preventive medicine in Mexico, particularly as chronic diseases continue rising, making personalized medicine even more attractive. However, this technology will have to face several challenges in the coming years, including complicated regulation due to ambiguous frameworks, lack of knowledge, limited accessibility (as true accessibility is defined by at least 80 percent of a product being available to the greater population), data privacy and synchronicity within industry players, amongst others.
A primary issue, as far as regulation and understanding of this technology is concerned, is its broad scope. From pharmaceuticals to medical devices, many evolving technologies fall into the category of personalized medicine. Currently, the FDA has approved 22 genetic treatments for use worldwide but their use will depend on national regulations and developmental projects. To move forward, health experts suggest looking to neighboring countries as examples.
The US’ chronic disease management research model has been successful because of the union between universities and the industry, as 95 percent of large projects come from institutions of higher learning. Mexico should take this model as an example, said David López, Country Managing Director, BioMarin Pharmaceuticals Mexico. However, there may not be enough researchers in the field despite the large number of young people in the country studying healthcare.
To improve regulations, López suggests contacting legislative bodies as regulation efforts start with them. “Connecting scientific research done in Mexico with industry interests is one of the great opportunities for drug development… We need a strong alliance between the industry and the legislative branch, since much of the regulation emanates from there. There must be political will to regulate and promote innovation in healthcare,” López said.
Mexico is considered one of the Top 5 Latin American countries with the best conditions to integrate and promote personalized medicine according to the Latin American Personalized Medicine Index. The country made great strides in the field of orphan medicine, which often relies on personalized medicine, by explaining the technology to local authorities. These efforts show that legislative bodies can be open to learning about this technology, said López, so there is a pressing need to contact and collaborate with them to advance personalized medicine.
The technological revolution facilitated by the pandemic greatly benefited personalized medicine. The personalized aspect of the devices and pharmaceuticals, as of most revolutionary technologies, relies on the collection of large amounts of personal data. Continuous monitoring diagnostic equipment and wearables such as smart watches already collect health data of their users, making them useful tools for the development of preventive personalized technology, said Jaen Velazquez, Director Business Development Mexico and Innovation Latin America, Siemens Healthineers. “Precision medicine requires data. AI and digital health are very promising sources to meet this requirement,” Velazquez said.
For the continued evolution of this science, patient participation is needed, agreed Velazquez, Sánchez and López. Timely diagnoses have the potential to change the framework of the Mexican healthcare ecosystem. The continuous participation and empowerment of patients in Mexico has historically shaped and driven efforts for breakthroughs in treatments of a broad range of diseases from HIV to diabetes. There has been an explosion of investment into personalized medicine in countries such as the US and Ireland, which have opened seven new biomedicine plants recently. Mexican advancement in the sector will require participation from all players, from patients to doctors to the federal government.