Drugs: Toward Personalized Prescriptions

When a patient has any one of a number of infections, his physician may write on a prescription blank: "Tetracycline, 250 mg. #16. Sig. 1 caps, q.i.d." That dosage of 250 milligrams is standard for any adolescent or adult, whether a 100-lb. girl or a 300-lb. man. Equally standard is the one capsule four times a day for about four days.

Such stereotyped prescribing is extremely unsound, says Pharmacologist Sumner Kalman of Stanford University. "There is no average man who always needs a particular dose of this or that drug on a certain...

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