The UK's Foundation for Genomics and Population Health (PHG Foundation) has called for the Government to improve its policies for using genomic medicine to treat patients.
The report calls for the Department of Health to give general practitioners (GPs) advice on how to use genomic medicine. Central to their recommendations is that GPs know too little about genomic medicine to select the best options for patients, meaning it is not improving public health.
Speaking to The Times newspaper, Caroline Wright, head of science at the PHG Foundation, explained the concern: 'There's an implicit assumption that testing is good, that knowledge is power, but the key question is does a test result helpfully change the management of a patient? If not, it is a waste of money'.
'When public money is being spent, it must be spent sensibly to get better care outcomes. It's really important that anything funded by health systems has evidence behind it'.
The report's other recommendations include the development of improved biomedical informatics systems and IT infrastructure; better guidance on who can access and use genomic data; improving public awareness of genomics; and developing Europe-wide regulations for genetic tests.
In total, the report makes twelve recommendations 'to realise the benefits of genomic science for health, wealth and society'.
Produced in collaboration with the University of Cambridge's Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP), the report was developed in response to the House of Lords Committee on Science and Technology's 2009 Report on Genomic Medicine.
This concluded genomics would play a major role in the treatment of complex conditions, such as cancer. But the PHG report found - in the short term - that the greatest benefits of genomic medicine would be in diagnosing single gene disorders.