Predictions for Healthcare in 2012

February 21, 2012 · Leave a comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc., MPH

While the Mayans might have been good at developing a cosmic calendar with 27,000-year cycles, I will try to venture only one or two years out and predict some developments within the healthcare system.

I dare say the Mayans had great foresight about changes, even if they never invented the wheel, but clearly they missed the fact that 2012 was an election year in the United States, and that predicting change became no mean task with orders of magnitude of difficulty. Nonetheless, I will attempt to gaze into my crystal ball and give my predictions for the next little while.

The promise of personalized medicine has been swirling around in the minds of brilliant people for well over a decade now, but we are patiently awaiting the results to impact our daily lives. Throughout the past 10-15 years, advances in the personalized medicine field have been somewhat slow to appear on the landscape. We should not be too discouraged by this advancing timeline, since we are still waiting for a cure for cancer after many decades of highly-funded research. Yet, each day, scientists are discovering more and more biomarkers with the potential to move us closer the reality of personalized medicine.

These biomarkers are not only predicting diseases—they are identifying companion diagnostics, indicating response levels to ... read more »


Early Detection: When Do You Want to Know?

July 20, 2010 · 2 comments

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

There have been some recent announcements in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease that will help patients determine the onset of early-stage disease. By combining imaging technology with some in vitro diagnostics that looks at specific biomarkers, physicians can provide some patients early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. But there is still one important issue to deal with at this time. There is no really effective cure for this dreaded disease.

So the question is: when do you want to know? As medicine advances and newer and more effective diagnostics tools become readily available, the ability to detect diseases earlier can mean we have more time to treat such disorders. On the other hand, if there are no effective means of treating these diseases, do we really want to know? Proponents of earlier diagnosis state that knowing what is inevitable helps a person better prepare for such eventualities, such as getting one’s will in order, deciding to do many things that were put off for years, travel more to visit loved ones, etc.  Whereas opponents state that knowing about an impending disease that cannot be treated or controlled only leads to heightened anxiety and depression. So what’s the right answer? Of course, it depends on the person.

If individuals are free to choose when to ... read more »


Personalized Medicine Shaping Pharma's Future

May 25, 2010 · 1 comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

I have spent the last 30 years directly or indirectly involved with the pharmaceutical industry. I worked for two international pharmaceutical companies and have advised many other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies over the past few years. So I undoubtedly have a biased view in favor of this industry and its aims to promote health while making a reasonable profit for its research efforts.

While I can appreciate all the activities undertaken by pharmaceutical companies to develop medicines to improve the health of people throughout the world, I can also understand why many people have a jaded view of these companies. The perception that pharmaceutical companies take advantage of sick people and make them pay high prices for medicines to make them better is one that prevails among many societies. Yet, through the invention of antibiotics to control infectious diseases, and vaccines to prevent many childhood diseases, and many other products for a variety of diseases, the pharmaceutical industry has made significant improvements to healthcare. In addition to the high cost of medicines, few people realize that the total cost of pharmaceutical products as a portion of the total healthcare spending in the United States is less than 10%. Yet, many people believe that medicines are far too expensive.

Pharmaceutical companies, for the most part, ... read more »