Occupy Precision Medicine!

September 1, 2015
Occupy Precision Medicine!
Source: iStock/izusek

Inequality. The word had all but vanished from public discussion of economic policy. Then Occupy Wall Street happened, and suddenly “inequality” was on everyone’s lips, as though people were waiting for an opportunity to recognize, however belatedly, an uncomfortable truth—individual virtue doesn’t guarantee security, let alone prosperity. And, finally, people felt free to admit that there might be, after all, such a thing as society.

A comparable shift in discourse may be in store for precision medicine, if two public health scholars have anything to say about it. These scholars—Sandro Galea, M.D., Dr.P.H., and Ronald Bayer, Ph.D.—are adamant that differences in public health outcomes are less a matter of access to medical care than they are a matter of sheer socioeconomic differences. Moreover, they suggest that if access to medical care matters relatively little, the availability of precision medicine matters even less.

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