Breath-Based P450: How Much in Savings?

One very exciting but rarely talked about technology is the identification of the P450 gene to predict drug compatibility and dosage. Now being studied in a breath-based format, it will make testing cheaper and quicker.  But why should we care?

I just read an article that discussed how over $3.5 billion of adverse drug events accrued in hospital alone can be avoided.  That’s almost $7 million for every hospital in the U.S!  According to the CFOs I speak with, that’s more than enough savings to become a focal point in any budget or safety meeting.

A recent article stated, “Genetic testing of the P450 gene is a relatively simple test that will help doctors determine how a patient will react to dosage amounts.  This test may help determine how effective or dangerous a drug may be for someone depending on their genetic makeup.

According to Dr. David Flockhart, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chief of the division of clinical pharmacology at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, IN, one test will not solve all problems. He noted, “Preventable adverse drug reactions are a big topic. There are multiple factors that can cause a patient to have a bad reaction to a prescribed therapy. There can be prescription error, such as getting the wrong drug to the wrong patient. This problem is so important that the FDA is focusing on preventing prescription errors with technology such as computerized medical records and bar coding.

However, one reasonable question has come up: if P450 gene was first identified over 50 years ago, why isn’t it in regular use?

What it boils down to is cost and time. With current technology, the P450 test costs approximately $520, a blood draw, and hours to determine the results. Limited reimbursement has also checked its use. For example, you can compare this to existing breath-based technology for asthma and h pylori, which cost less that $50. Only time will tell if this will become a viable way to test a patient’s reaction to medicine.

James Laskaris, EE, BME
James Laskaris, EE, BME, Clinical Analyst — Mr. James Laskaris is a senior emerging technology analyst at MD Buyline and has been with the company since 1994. With over 30 years of experience in the healthcare field, Mr. Laskaris is the primary analyst of high-end OR technology. He also covers issues related to the legislative and reimbursement effect on healthcare and authors a bimonthly “Issues that Matter” publication. Mr. Laskaris received his biomedical engineering degree from Southern Illinois University. His work has been published in hfm Magazine, Radiology Manager and Healthcare Purchasing News.