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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Scientific Advances – Individualized Medical Treatment

The march of science continues, and so does its impact on tort litigation. For example, the American Bar Association’s TIPS section is hosting an April 2-4 seminar in Phoenix that includes speakers focused on claimant specific genomes as they impact disease. The agenda is here. Plainly we are moving towards a world in which individuals and subgroups will receive more attention, and generalized tort class actions will be harder to justify, but specialized clas actions may be harder to avoid. The results probably will help some plaintiffs and some defendants.

On the subject of individualized disease and mediciane, also interesting is a very recent medical article about using individual DNA to predict the amount of blood thinner needed for particular individuals. The research is descibed in a February 18 wall Street Journal article by Keith J. Winstein. To date, the dosing process for using blood thinners apparently has involved much trial and error, but now there is apparently credible evidence that the needed dose frequently can be predicted using individual DNA, at least for one of the blood thinner drugs. The research also is described a showing that some individuals do not well with the drug due to their DNA. Thus, this would seem to be yet another example of why the FDA and the US medical system are going to have learn to work with both epidemiology and molecular biology at the same time. Double blind studies are a pretty blunt instrument when compared to personalized science regarding the drugs useful for a specific person.

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