Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences & UBC Division of Respiratory Medicine
Respiratory Evaluation Sciences Program

The economics of precision health: preventing air pollution-induced exacerbation in asthma


The demonstrable value of precision medicine, in the context of common environmental exposures, has scarcely been explored. This study evaluated the cost effectiveness of a preventive personalised intervention to reduce the adverse effect of air pollution in the context of asthma.

A decision–analytic model was used to conduct a cost-utility analysis of prevention interventions in case of acute exposure to air pollution in mild asthma. Three different strategies, as follows, were compared: no preventive intervention; precision health strategy based on information from genotype testing, followed with treating high-risk patients; and prescribing additional medication to all mild asthmatics as a preventive intervention. The costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) in the base case and alternative scenarios were obtained through probabilistic analysis.

The results showed that the precision prevention intervention (anticipatory intervention for asthmatics, guided by relevant genetic abnormality, in the face of acute air pollution) is a cost-effective strategy compared with no such intervention, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of CAD 49 555 per QALY. Furthermore, this strategy is a dominant strategy compared with an intervention that prescribes medication indiscriminately to all asthmatics.

The incorporation of genomic testing to stratify risk of asthmatics to pollution-driven exacerbations, and then tailoring a preventive intervention accordingly, may be cost effective relative to untailored methods. These results lend plausibility to the use of precision medicine for limiting asthma exacerbation in the context of air pollution and, potentially, other exposures.



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