One example of that is the cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco, made by Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The drug is approved for use in only about 2,000 of the 30,000 cystic fibrosis patients in the U.S. and costs a whopping $300,000 per year, per patient.
Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, a private nonpartisan foundation that supports independent research on health and social issues, cited Kalydeco in a column this fall in the Wall Street Journal, entitled "The High Cost — and Difficult Ethics — of Personalized Medicine."
Blumenthal told CNBC that the prices of such drugs is worrisome, particularly because of the fact that the amount that people pay out of pocket for their prescription medication — in the form of deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance — has continued to rise as employers and insurers shift a bigger share of overall health costs onto patients.
The cost of personalized medicines is "going to exact a high price on families that have sick members," Blumenthal said.
And "it's very anxiety-provoking to know that there's something that can cure you or your loved one but you can't afford to pay for it," he said.
"To reduce it to the ultimate case, let's say you had a drug that worked only on one person, and it cost as much to develop as it would to develop a drug that would work on 100 million people," Blumenthal said. "Well, you can see what the implications are on the affordability of that medication."
Blumenthal, like other health-care experts, sees very little chance, or none at all, of the government imposing price controls on the costs of personalized medicine or on any other prescription drugs in the near future despite widespread public concern about drug costs.
But Blumenthal said that health-care leaders could look at possible solutions that might help to mitigate rising drug costs, such as evaluating the current patent protections that drug makers have and discussing how much companies should disclose about their development costs for drugs.
"Before we jump to a particular solution, we need to look at the range of solutions," he said.