On 22 March 2018, Interpharma hosted the seminar for science journalists on the future topic of “Better medicine thanks to data” in collaboration with the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMW) and the Swiss Clinical Trial Organization (SCTO). The event was primarily aimed at science journalists and actors from the scientific community, as well as authorities and health insurance representatives.

The focus of the seminar was on the topics of personalized medicine and big data, which involves the gathering, storage and analysis of patients’ personal data in order to develop a therapy that is as individual as possible.

The pharmaceutical industry and the public sector have been investing a considerable part of their financial resources in the research and development of personalized medicine for several years. Nonetheless, many questions still remain unanswered, and there are both ethical and legal reasons why caution is called for, especially with regard to protecting the privacy of patients. Patient data belongs to the individual, and it is the individual who should decide how and to what extent the data may be used.

Experts at the seminar explained the opportunities and challenges of personalized medicine and presented examples to illustrate where there is a need for clarification and where there is some catching up to be done. The discussion that followed focused in particular on the benefits to the patient, because the gathering and analysis of data should ultimately allow more effective medicines and therapies to be developed and treatment of diseases to be more targeted. For the further development of personalized medicine, industry and academia need high-quality data. This will necessitate gaining people‘s trust.

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The seminar will be held again in 2019. Under the future topic “New opportunities in healthcare thanks to coordination and quantification”, the challenges for Switzerland’s fragmented healthcare system will be discussed and coordination between healthcare specialists will be considered from various angles.