I normally steer well clear of the topic of sequencing in newborn babies because this area raises so many social, legal and ethical questions that go way beyond the clinical/economics perspective that we’re used to considering. However, I read an interesting commentary piece the other day by Jacques Beckmann titled ‘Can we afford to sequence every newborn baby’s genome?’ which I think deserves a wider audience for two reasons. One, it reminded me of a comment that Professor Sir John Burn (director, NHS England) made during the recent Astellas Innovation Debate in London. Jonathan Dimbleby asked if he could see whole genome sequencing (WGS) being rolled out to everyone across the UK, to which he replied: “the reality is that even when we get the 100,000 Genomes Project fully operational and get it absorbed, we’ll only be doing maybe 30,000-50,000 whole genomes a year – we’d have to do 600,000 a year to catch up with the new babies”. Second, I think there are some points raised in this article that go beyond newborn screening and are directly applicable to the economic evaluation of genomic testing in a variety of clinical contexts.
Last week I attended the Astellas Innovation Debate (“i-Genes: What the DNA and Data revolutions mean for our health”) at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London. This was an interesting event and I was pleased to get the opportunity to make a couple of points during the debate itself. I also wrote about the debate and the wider implications of this revolution from a health economics perspective for the BMJ. You can read this blog here.
Interested readers can watch the entire 2015 debate at http://www.innovationdebate.com/.