Gene testing can tell us a lot about ourselves, from predisposition to certain diseases to how much Scandinavian ancestry we have. But a new type of genetic testing called pharmacogenetics has the potential to transform how medication is prescribed by tailoring it to an individual’s specific genetic makeup.
This type of genetic testing has the capacity to make a real difference in patients’ lives. Pharmacogenetic testing will be made available to Copeman Healthcare clients in the coming weeks.
How pharmacogenetic testing works
We all have genes that can impact how our bodies metabolize – or don’t metabolize – a medication. Currently, without pharmacogenetic testing, physicians make prescribing decisions based on knowledge of the medication and of the condition that the patient has. This duality of knowledge is considered, a medication is prescribed and then the patient’s response to the treatment is monitored.
Usually, there is improvement in the condition, and the medication is continued. However, on some occasions, the patient does not improve as expected or, worse, they develop unwanted side effects.
Pharmacogenetic testing allows for examination of an individual’s response to different drug therapies by analyzing their genes and the way they influence how that individual metabolizes and responds to medications. With pharmacogenetic testing, doctors can try to increase the likelihood of early improvement and avoid complications, such as side effects and interaction with other medication.
When a patient signs up to receive a pharmacogenetic test, they will get tested in a fashion similar to a regular blood panel and receive a copy of their results, which also goes into their personal medical file. But the real magic happens when their physician logs into the online database.
The physician can enter lab and condition data, which couples with the genetic profile of the patient, to help guide them to use the best medication options for the patient. As new information becomes available, the database is updated, and physicians can further streamline their prescribing.
Who will pharmacogenetic testing benefit?
Pharmacogenetic testing is an opportunity for truly individualized healthcare, which benefits both patients and doctors.
Physicians now have another tool at their disposal to make medication decisions, and patients have more control in optimizing their health.
It will be especially useful for individuals who are struggling to find an effective medication. Anyone taking multiple medications will benefit from the software’s ability to highlight increased risk of drug interaction. It will also be advantageous for patients with chronic conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease and depression that go through changes over the long term.
If you take a case of someone suffering from depression for instance, many antidepressant medications can have variable metabolism, which is dependent on an individual’s genetic makeup. As such, it is possible that the medication a physician chooses to prescribe may not necessarily be the best option for the patient. With a pharmacogenetics profile, physicians can optimize their prescribing, and as such, have an increased chance of prescribing the best medication for a patient during the initial visit.
Another example includes common blood pressure medication. We know that approximately 7 per cent of patients taking ACE inhibitors, such as Ramipril, will develop a cough. A pharmacogenetic test will allow us to know how likely this is to occur before prescribing that medication.
Looking to learn more about pharmacogenetic testing?
This service is entirely optional for Copeman Healthcare clients.
Pharmacogenetic testing will be available at Copeman Healthcare in the coming weeks. An email announcement will be sent when the tests are available for Copeman Healthcare clients.