Science Developing to Better Cater Prescriptions to the Individual

No human problem has a universal solution. You can tell people to stop spending now, and to save for a better future; but a man starving now would be stupid to worry more about his future. You can tell people to pay for a jet to travel faster, but a man with a teleportation device would be stupid to waste money on a slow jet. Any time you give a large group of people advice without considering their personal situation, you’re asking a few of them to be stupid. Universal solutions don’t exist because everybody’s situation is different.

This extends to pharmacy. Not all medications will work for all people at all times. Efficacy can vary according to an individual’s height, weight, gender, race, age, metabolism speed, environment and genes. To some extent, even though a pharmacist knows what a drug is suppose to do, he can’t be sure of what it will actually do. He doesn’t know how an individual’s body will ingest the drug, and thus doesn’t know what dosage would be optimum. A lot of it is just guesswork.

Chinese and U.S. scientists, aware of this problem, are now developing statistical models to more accurately predict which drugs at which dosages are right for specific individuals. At the Center for Statistical Genetics, the director Rongling Wu and his team looked at pharmacokinetics (how a concentration of a drug reaches it target) and pharmacodynamics (how the body responds to the drug), and created a framework of differential equations involving those variables. The framework can help predict a drug’s absorption, distribution and elimination properties. Paired with data about people’s DNA, this could soon help pharmacists better understand what dosage is right for individuals.

Everybody is special. Pharmacists can now know that.