Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes can affect a person’s response to a drug. As its name indicates, it is a combination of pharmacology and genomics. Pharmacogenomics testing, also known as drug-gene testing, can identify what medications will be safe and effective for an individual, in an effort to improve treatment outcomes. Medication dosages can also be tailored based upon testing results. Some clinics and pharmacies already offer this type of testing, and others are taking steps to learn about the field and its benefits. The National Community Pharmacists Association has explained that “pharmacogenomics allows customized treatment for a wide range of health problems including: cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and asthma.”
The testing is based on the fact that genetic makeup can play a role in how each person responds to a medication. Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to be able to conveniently collect DNA samples. To perform a test, a blood or saliva sample is gathered from an individual to help determine:
- The potential effectiveness of prescribed medications
- The correct medication dosage
- If the possibility of an adverse reaction exists
It is important to note that one test will not provide information on how a customer will respond to all medications, and testing is not currently available for all drugs. However, a single DNA sample will allow a lab to generate a report on a full range of specific drugs in a variety of categories—a report that is relevant for a lifetime. A test can also be done to determine how an individual would respond to common medications in a certain category, such as those for pain relief, and the appropriate dose for that person. Test costs are dictated by test type and insurance coverage.
To perform the testing, pharmacies need a reliable lab partner to interpret and report the results. Participating pharmacists will:
- Send collected DNA to the lab
- Discuss the results with the customer’s doctor
- Explain the results and treatment recommendations to the customer
Educational programs are available to prepare pharmacists for adding a pharmacogenomics service to their businesses. Examples of companies that partner with pharmacists in this area of care include Alpha Genomix and MD Labs.
Drug-gene testing is especially beneficial to those who have tried various medications without success. The tests offer insight into why customers may have not found relief for their symptoms in the past. Individuals can also gain peace of mind by learning if they have a genetic predisposition to react adversely to a drug they have never taken before.
As you learn more about offering innovative services to customers, Real Value Rx will be here to meet your pharmacy's individualized needs.