Pharmacogenetics (PGX) is the study of genetic differences or variations in metabolic pathways which can affect individual responses to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic effect as well as adverse effects. Until recently, drugs have been developed with the idea that each drug works pretty much the same in all individuals. But genomic research has changed this "one size fits all" approach and has opened the door to a more sophisticated method of personalized medicine.
Through the use of a simple buccal swab to collect a specimen, a PGX test can provide physicians a valuable new slice of additional clinical information, which can be used to greatly increase the safety and effectiveness of drug therapy. Some patients may experience sub-therapeutic or ineffective responses to certain drugs, due to genetic variations. Genetic variations can also lead to an altered dose regimen, thus PGX testing can also predict the optimal patient dose to achieve a therapeutic effect.
The awareness of the genetic variations of a patient - in response to certain drugs - can help physicians determine which type of drug therapy may be most effective for individual patients, and can also help physicians avoid drugs for those individuals that may cause adverse reactions.
Adverse drug reactions account for over 2 million hospitalizations per year, and are considered the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, which is why leading institutions such as Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, Duke University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University Medical Center have noticed the benefit of PGX and have adopted the testing.
Why Should a Physician Order PGX Testing?
- Reduces the risks of side effects and overdose
- Minimizes adverse drug interactions
- Allows the physician to know the right dose
Any patient who
- has had multiple drug types prescribed
- requires a higher-than-standard dosage to achieve the desired result
- has had a severe adverse drug reaction
- has had unexpected or unexplained responses to medications
- has had multiple unsuccessful drug trials
- has health issues in multiple organ systems