The British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) has today launched a new independent white paper, ‘Leveraging advanced diagnostics to realise the UK's potential in genomics’ which examines the UK genomics landscape, with a focus on patient access to genomic testing.
Improved access to genomics diagnostics has the power to transform healthcare and provide several societal benefits to the UK. By optimising diagnosis and treatment, personalised healthcare pathways can be implemented, empowering patients to better prevent future illness and access the most effective, bespoke therapies. This subsequently saves clinicians’ time by avoiding unnecessary treatments, protects vital NHS funds, and alleviates pressure across an already stretched health care system.
However, while the UK is positioned as a world-leading pioneer in genomics innovation, patient access to genomic testing remains suboptimal. For example, the UK currently ranks 19th in Europe for uptake of next-generation sequencing in non-small cell lung cancer. The question therefore arises: how can the UK’s potential in genomics be unlocked?
The independent report, undertaken by Charles River Associates under commission for BIVDA, has identified a series of reasons for limited access to genomic testing for UK patients, while also recognising opportunities to improve the current situation.
Regulatory issues, a lack of centralised guidance on the applicability of different funding pathways and underdeveloped infrastructure to increase testing capacity are all persistent issues which currently hamper the UK genomics climate. Establishing critical partnerships across both the public and private sector, alongside the enactment of policy change, can begin to erode these barriers and improve the adoption of, and access to, genomic testing for UK patients.
Commenting on the launch of the paper, BIVDA Chief Executive, Doris-Ann Williams, said: “I am delighted BIVDA is publishing this report today, highlighting work being undertaken by our Genomics Working Group. This is an exciting area for the use of diagnostic testing with huge potential for the future, individualising treatment for the population of the UK.”
Chair of BIVDA’s Genomics Working Group, Philip Beer, added: “Democratised access to genomic diagnostics has the potential to significantly impact the lives of patients, including access to novel treatments and avoidance of side effects associated with ineffective therapies.
“This review has identified key challenges that are currently limiting patient access to genomic testing in the UK. Importantly, this work characterises potential solutions to these problems, through the optimal use of industry-healthcare partnerships licensed by national level policy change.”
The full white paper can be downloaded here.