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How Pharmacogenetic Testing Improves Treatment Selections and Avoids Harmful Drug Reactions

Pgx testing-Pharmacogenetic-dna-mental health
Pgx testing-Pharmacogenetic-dna-mental health

In the era of personalized medicine, physicians can sometimes use genetic testing to understand which medications at which doses will be most likely to help a patient get well without causing harmful drug reactions. This is called pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing.

A cornerstone of personalized medicine, PGx testing can help physicians make more informed treatment recommendations by providing information on how certain medications may interact with a patient’s genes. This information is especially important now because of the bountiful treatment options available for many diseases.

For example, there are many different medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of acute pain. The selection of one of these drugs is needed to start patient therapy. Similar issues exist for the selection of anxiety medications, blood thinners, epilepsy medicines, and cancer treatments. Basing treatment recommendations on PGx testing results can help ensure that medications work as expected and help patients avoid drug reactions that may require hospitalization.

Reducing trial-and-error

In some disease areas, PGx testing promises to help reduce trial-and-error inefficiencies that are embedded into current health care practices.

For example, according to Mental Health America, many patients with mental health disorders will try more than one medication before finding one that works. In some cases, the initial medicine has side effects that require the patient to need another option. In other situations, the drug selected first does not improve the patient’s symptoms.

PGx testing can help some mental health patients find an effective treatment sooner by avoiding those with a low chance of working or a high chance of undesired effects.

More than 100 applications

Scientists are constantly discovering new applications for PGx testing.

The Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium, a leading guideline developer in personalized medicine and an authority on PGx testing, has published a list of more than 100 drugs that are metabolized in a unique way by patients with certain genetic characteristics. This list continues to expand and evolve as new knowledge emerges about the genetic underpinnings of drug metabolism.

As PGx testing typically looks at several different DNA variants, testing can aid a current medical decision while serving as a guide for future medication selections.

Better efficiency and effectiveness

By quickly directing the right treatments to the right patients, researchers working in pharmacogenomics hope to make medicine more efficient and effective. In addition to delivering better care for patients, the goal is to generate cost savings for health systems that will no longer have to incur the expenses of multiple trial-and-error medication regimens before finding one that works for any given patient.

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