genome According to a study by PriceWaterHouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute on the Top Nine Health Industry Issues for 2009, the cost of genetic testing is dropping to levels that will allow companies to offer these services to the general public.

The goal set by the National Human Genome Research Institute at the U.S. National Institutes of Health back in 2006 —was to cut the cost to sequence DNA to a hundred thousand U.S. dollars by 2009 and to about a thousand dollars by 2014.

Today, bidding on eBay for a full genetic sequence starts at $68,000. Non-profit X-Prize Foundation and a company called Knome are auctioning off this unusual item starting Friday, May 1st , 2009.

One of the impediments for a full-fledged market to take off is the lack of a proposed federal ban on discriminating the use of genetic data. This has moved research toward finding how genetic data can affect drug production and begin an era of personal medicine.

Pharmaceutical consulting firms are keeping up with these changes, which will undoubtedly bring about more complex needs from their client firms in the research, regulatory, quality control, and auditing realms. It is indubitable that, as soon as genome-based personal health care becomes a reality, the market and general environment for pharmaceutical, health care, and health insurance companies will have been completely changed forever.

The human genome was first mapped in 2003, and while there is wild speculation as to the possibilities of personalized treatment, it is already a certainty that innovative drugs and treatments will be available thanks to this very important breakthrough. The main issue today is the regulatory framework to avoid discrimination (for example by the health insurance industry) and other undesirable practices; and the reduction of costs to a level that allows for critical mass and thereby affordability for most people.