The Human Genome Project was created with the ultimate goal of improving human health. Since its inception, the majority of funding has gone to the development of technologies and the creation of massive data sets. The applications of the Human Genome Project have been slow in developing. On July 26, 2000 a press conference at the Whitehouse proclaimed the success of the Human Genome Project. However, at that time even the most fundamental of information, such as the number of human genes, remained unknown.
While gene therapy has fallen short of its initial promises, personal medicine (the term will be used interchangeably with pharmacogenomics) is more promising. The development of hundreds of thousands of biomarkers along with the technologies to rapidly and inexpensively perform genetic screening has created the foundation for personal medicine. Just as the Human Genome Project itself has been burdened with ethical implications, so has personal medicine. However, society has been evolving practices regarding genetic and clinical information which are poised for their application to personal medicine. Here three areas with ethical implications: (1) privacy concerns, (2) economic considerations, and (3) potential malpractice litigation are discussed along with the application of pre-existing ethical principles to each.