The drugs you take may not actually be working. Experts say that, thanks to various genetic quirks, most drugs only work for about half the people who take them, meaning that much of the roughly $300 billion America spends on drugs each year is wasted. That’s why forward-looking doctors are fixated on the holy grail of “personalized medicine”—the idea of using genetic tests to ensure each patient gets the right drugs.
Such genetic testing can be pricey, and drug companies will likely resist a practice that will winnow away their customers. “It’s going to take 20 to 30 years for all this to fall into place,” predicted one doctor. But since many drugs come hitched with dangerous side effects, doctors see personalized medicine as both essential and inevitable.