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Initiatives in place to ensure responsible use of precision medicine

We thank Ms Grace Chua Siew Hwee for her letter, “Concerns over how SG100K DNA mapping will affect S’poreans” (May 31).

Precision medicine has been identified as an important strategy to support a healthier population and improve healthcare outcomes.

When applied appropriately, precision medicine could identify groups at higher risk of chronic diseases to start preventive care early.

This could involve inexpensive interventions or lifestyle adjustments, which are more cost-effective than the downstream treatments needed for chronic diseases.

To ensure responsible use of precision medicine, the Precision Health Research Singapore (PRECISE) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) have also embarked on a number of initiatives.

MOH developed the Code of Practice on the Standards for the Provision of Clinical Genetic/Genomic Testing Services and Clinical Laboratory Genetic/Genomic Testing Services in 2018 to guide medical practitioners on safe and best practices to provide clinical genetic testing services.

A Moratorium on Genetic Testing and Insurance was rolled out by the Life Insurance Association last year to ensure that all genetic test results from biomedical research and predictive genetic tests are not used in insurance underwriting, except those with strong scientific evidence (for example, Huntington’s Disease) and for high-value insurance contracts.

The Bioethics Advisory Committee, Singapore, is also developing national advisory reports to guide researchers, academics and healthcare professionals on the ethical and responsible use of genomic data.

We are constantly reviewing developments in this area and conducting our own research to validate the usefulness of different precision medicine approaches.

Tan Chorh Chuan (Professor)

Chief Health Scientist

Ministry of Health

Patrick Tan (Professor)

Executive Director

Precision Health Research Singapore

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