Precision treatment is an opportunity to curb the overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics that is fuelling the development of drug-resistance, and at the same time offer a more efficient, and gentle treatment to many patients.

In order to prescribe precise medicine, doctors need precise diagnosis of the bad bacteria at play. That requires cultivation of a given bacteria in a lab, which today takes at least 48 hours. Today, antibiotics are often administered without a proper diagnosis. Precise diagnosis for precision medicine is an unfolding opportunity.

New Toolbox

This opportunity covers a range of tools allowing doctors to identify the exact type of bacteria during the time of consultation and therefore to prescribe narrow spectrum antibiotics. New diagnostic tools will facilitate the advance of a ‘one bug, one drug’ approach to antibiotic development and to the treatment of patients. Hopefully, these new tests will allow bacteria to be identified directly from clinical samples (e.g. blood), speeding up diagnosis and enabling the most appropriate antibiotic to be administered within hours. For tuberculosis, the time to diagnosis of multidrug resistance has been cut from several months to two hours by a game-changing molecular test.

New diagnostic tools will enable doctors to prescribe the relevant narrow spectrum antibiotics, whereby reducing the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. The narrow spectrum antibiotics will not kill as many of the normal microorganisms in the body as the broad-spectrum antibiotics and thereby reduce side effects. In addition, it will lead to less resistance by putting pressure on fewer types of bacteria.

The new screening approach will enable highly specific antibiotics to be designed, accelerating the race to overcome resistance and creating a market for new treatments. New tools will allow doctors to undertake rapid diagnosis. In developing countries, with low levels of lab capacity, such tools can mean leapfrogging into higher quality health care.


Precise medication is not limited to narrow spectrum antibiotics, but also concerns the so-called probiotics. Probiotics are living bacteria and yeasts, delivered in food and drinks or as purified supplements, which are intended to help the body fend off bad bacteria and prevent infections or other problems. WHO defines probiotics as live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amount confer a health benefit. Exactly how probiotics work remains to be fully understood.

Probiotics are given to both treat and prevent diseases and are situated at the overlap between scientific medicine and alternative medicine. Research shows that probiotics may substitute antibiotics in a number of cases and allow for more targeted treatment.

The new technologies in development promise accurate diagnostics at a much accelerated pace compared to today. Yet, they still need to be reduced in size and they need to be affordable also in low resource settings, and that takes investment and innovation. However, developing the diagnostic tools to allow for fast and precise targeting of antibiotic therapy will not only save lives and save patients a lot of discomfort, it can also limit the development of antibiotic resistance.

Prescribing more precise dosages of drugs will result in faster treatments and fewer sick days for the patients, lowering the overall cost for the health system and slowing down the development of resistance.

Survey Findings

Precision treatment is very positively assessed worldwide. It is also the preferred market opportunity to address the risk of loss of lifesaving medicine of the three surveyed in 2015.

To keep antibiotics working in order to treat infections, precision treatment has been assessed as a popular market opportunities among the respondents in Europe. By contrast, respondents in China do not see much potential in this opportunity, as they rate it with a lot less optimism. Respondents in South America have expressed confidence in this opportunity to have great benefits for society, but political will power to pursue it is perceived to be missing in the region.

It is the one of the favorite market opportunities among the very high HDI countries whereas for high HDI countries it is rated less positive. Across age groups it is less preferred by respondents below the age of 30 while it is very popular among respondents at the age of 50 and above. Among business respondents, the finance sector sees itself as the most affected, but surprisingly, results show that the same sector is not very likely to pursue new business opportunities within precision treatment. The only other business sector that perceives itself to be affected by this opportunity is the ‘other business sector’, which may be explained by the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is part of this sector category.

This market was surveyed globally in 2015 by more than 5500 leaders from both the public and private sectors. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the research company YouGov. The survey results were originally published in the Global Opportunity Report 2016.

Global Goals addressed

Market Details

Market Size in US$, 2025: 112.6 bn
Growth Rate (CAGR), 2015-2025: 11%