Although bereft of any actual details, President Barack Obama’s announcement about launching “a new Precision Medicine Initiative” has caused quite a stir.

During his State of the Union address, Pres Obama claimed that “21st century businesses will rely on American science, technology, research and development. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine_—_one that delivers the right treatment at the right time”.

He then went on to talk specifically about cystic fibrosis, saying that in some patients, the personalised approach “has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable”. The president was referring to the small group of patients on Vertex Pharmaceuticals' Kalydeco (ivacaftor) which can cost some $300,000 a year.

Pres Obama then went on to say that “tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes_—_and to give all of us access to the personalised information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier”.

That was all he said on the matter, leaving observers to wonder what form this initiative will take. However, sentiment concerning Pres Obama’s speech has been pretty positive.

Integral to future of healthcare

Richard Weinshilboum, acting director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualised Medicine, said “we are pleased and heartened that Pres Obama plans to increase federal funding for precision or individualised medicine, Saying that Mayo views the latter as “integral to the future of healthcare”, he added that “we eagerly await more details of the initiative and look forward to contributing however we can”.

UPDATE: Jim Greenwood, head of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said "a large-scale national research commitment to chronic conditions would identify precursors and early signs of disease or disease risk to unlock the root causes of these conditions". He added that precision medicine, "finding the right treatment for the right patient at the right time, can help maximise clinical benefit while reducing the risk of side effects".

Mr Greenwood also called for comprehensive tax reform, which "should go further to support growth and innovation in biotech companies, most of which are pre-revenue. Furthermore, we will fight to protect the Orphan Drug Tax Credit, which has been instrumental in encouraging innovation into new cures and treatments for rare diseases".