Journal of Chinese Pharmaceutical Sciences ›› 2015, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (4): 268-270.

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Advances in FDA’s Safety Program for Marketed Drugs FDA Continues to Lead in Precision Medicine

Janet Woodcock M.D.   

  • Received:2015-04-01 Revised:2015-04-05 Online:2015-04-28 Published:2015-04-10


    Everyone knows that different people don’t respond the same way to medications, and that “one size does not fit all.” FDA has been pushing for targeted drug therapies, sometimes called “personalized medicines” or “precision medicines,” for a long time.
    Targeted therapies make use of blood tests, images of the body, or other technologies to measure individual factors called “biomarkers.” These biomarkers can then be used to determine who is most likely to benefit from a treatment, who is at higher risk of a side effect, or who needs a different dose. Targeting therapy can improve drug safety, and make sure that only people likely to have a good response get put on a drug.
    Targeted therapies have gained public attention since President Obama announced a Precision Medicine Initiative in his most recent State of the Union address. This initiative will reinforce our work at FDA, where development of targeted drug therapies has been a priority since the 1990s. In 1998, FDA approved the targetedtherapy, Herceptin (trastuzumab), offering new hope for many patients with breast cancer. High levels of a biomarker, known as “HER-2,” identified breast tumors that were more likely to be susceptible to this drug.