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European Biopharmaceutical Review

A Discussion of the Ethical Issues which Surround Pharmacogenetics

People often respond differently to the same medicine. Few medicines are effective for everyone and all may cause adverse reactions or even, occasionally, death. Pharmacogenetics, the study of genetic variation between individuals that affects response to medicines, has the potential to play an important role in improving safety and efficacy. Not only do adverse reactions to medicines have significant costs, in both human and monetary terms, but considerable resources are wasted on prescribing medicines that have little or no effect for particular patients.

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By Dr Sandy Thomas, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics

Dr Sandy Thomas is Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and Senior Fellow, Science Policy and Technology Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex. She trained as a Scientist at the University of London (BSc Botany and Zoology, MSc Crop Protection, PhD (Plant Genetics). After lecturing in genetics at the University of London, she became Research Fellow at the Science Policy Research and Technology Unit at the University of Sussex (1987-1997) where she specialised in policy research in life sciences and biotechnology. In 1997, she was appointed as Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics through a secondment from the University of Sussex. Over the past decade, she has published widely on the development of public policy for biotechnology, particularly in the area of intellectual property rights and the development and application of genomics. She was a member of the recent UK DFID Commission on Intellectual Property Rights.

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Dr Sandy Thomas
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