Friday 9 January 2015

The not-so-rapid decreasing costs of genetic testing

There is a whole big noisy discussion going on around the regulation of NGS tests, which has been covered in some detail by GenomeWeb and other bloggers. My lab does not develop tests, but I have a real interest in seeing how NGS is being translated to the clinic and reading what's going on is very interesting indeed.

One aspect jumped out of me in the recent GenomeWeb coverage, that the "Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014" will only allow Medicare costs to drop by a maximum of 25% from 2017-2022. If I'm interpreting this right then test providers, but not tax payers, could stand to benefit as the costs of sequencing fall.

Given that we've seen a precipitous drop historically (see image above) that might be very much to the disadvantage of taxpayers and ultimately patients.

I don't think the cost of NGS is going to plummet quite as fast now we've all got X-Tens, but the competition in the NGS test market is very much in its infancy and this 7 year deal might delay true competition by keeping costs higher than they might otherwise have been.

The US still seems to be ahead of us (the UK) in getting these tests into the hands of doctors, and as long as the NHS does not break hopefully in the long-term we'll be getting genomes for £8.05.

I'll admit to, and be ready for critical comments because of my lack of knowledge in this area...

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