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Drug Industry Seeks Tests to Spot Side Effect Risks
Date:9/27/2007

7 pharmaceutical giants are pooling resources to develop gene-based screens

THURSDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Seven major pharmaceutical companies are banding together to develop genetic tests that predict which patients will have adverse side effects from drugs.

The group, a nonprofit organization dubbed the International Serious Adverse Events Consortium (SAEC), will conduct two studies, one to look at drug-related liver toxicity and the other aimed at a rare drug-related skin condition called Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

"SAEC's focus is to identify and to validate DNA variance or genetic markers that are useful in predicting a drug-induced serious adverse event," Arthur Holden, the chairman of the group, said during a midmorning teleconference Thursday.

The findings of the consortium could have an impact on improving the ability of patients to safely use existing drugs, Holden added. "We hope it will improve the productivity and effectiveness not only for those who develop drugs but for those who regulate drug development," he said.

"The immediate goal would be to develop a test that could identify who will have a problem with a drug before they get it," said Dr. Paul Watkins, director of the General Clinical Research Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "The ultimate goal is to look at the genes that are causing the susceptibility and work back to figure out how we can design drugs differently so that no one would have that problem," he added.

"The two drug reactions that are being studied, Stevens-Johnson and liver toxicity, are very common reasons for problems with drugs either being restricted, not being developed, not being approved or being pulled off the market," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"This effort is part of personalized medicine -- personalized safety -- th
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