Pharmacogenetics: ethical issues


Published 22/09/2003

Pharmaco cover
Research in pharmacogenetics investigates how differences in our genes can affect our response to medicines.
Blood tests

This report considers the implications for research and development of medicines, clinical practice and treatment, and the use and storage of genetic information.

Our report concludes:

  • It is difficult to predict the extent to which ‘personalised medicines’ will become a reality. Claims of designer drugs, or ‘the right medicine, for the right patient, at the right dose’ are misleading, but it is important to discuss ethical, legal, regulatory and social issues that may be raised by improvements in predicting response to medicines.
  • To obtain maximum benefits from pharmacogenetics we need to address legitimate concerns and safeguard against inappropriate use. There must be the right combination of constraints and incentives to protect and promote the interests of patients and society as pharmacogenetic testing is more widely introduced.