Frequently asked questions

What is Pharmacogenomics?

Pharmacogenomics (also known as pharmacogenetics) is the study of how our genes affect the way we react and respond to medications. The word “pharmacogenomics” comes from the words pharmacology (the study of the uses and effects of medications) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions). Pharmacogenomics can help a doctor prescribe a medication that leads to fewer side effects or a medication that may work better.

What is a Pharmacogenomic Test?

Your body has thousands of genes that you inherited from your parents, and some of these genes are responsible for how your body processes certain medications. A pharmacogenomic test provides additional information to help healthcare providers make treatment decisions for patients with certain medical conditions.

Do I Need a Healthcare Provider to Order This Test?

Yes, you need a healthcare provider who is licensed and able to write a prescription (e.g., MD, DO, NP, PA, DDS) to complete the test order. If you don’t have one, we can recommend a healthcare provider who is knowledgably and experienced in pharmacogenetic testing and interpreting for you. Please contact us at or call: 888-232-7761.

How Can Pharmacogenomics Be Used?

Pharmacogenomic testing can help doctors decide which medications to use including the right dosage, the first time. An individual’s genes may help determine which medications to avoid or how to adjust the dose of a medication allowing a doctor to tailor medications to a patient based on differences in the patient’s genes.

When Are The Tests Ordered?

A healthcare practitioner may test a patient's genes for certain variations that are known to be involved in variable response to a medication at any time during treatment (for example, prior to treatment, during initial phase of treatment, or later in the treatment). The results of the testing may be combined with the individual's clinical information, including age, weight, health, and other drugs that they are taking, to help target therapy. Many times, your healthcare practitioner may use this information to adjust the medication dose or sometimes to choose a different drug. Pharmacogenetic testing is intended to give the healthcare practitioner additional information but may not replace the need for therapeutic drug monitoring.

Testing may be ordered prior to starting specific drug therapies or if a person who has started taking a drug is experiencing side effects or having trouble establishing and/or maintaining a stable dose. Sometimes a person may not experience such issues until other medications that affect the metabolism or action of the drug in question are added or discontinued.

The FDA has updated the labels of more than 250 drugs to include pharmacogenetic information.

Additionally, a combination of the following conditions indicates an increased risk of adverse reactions to medications. Cygenex pharmacogenetic testing can provide insight to help reduce the risk

Conditions that may put a patient at risk:

  • Over 65 years of age
  • Experiencing unwanted side effects from medication(s)
  • Feels their medications aren’t working
  • Starting a new drug treatment therapy

Or, has one or more of the following medical conditions:

- acid reflux
- mental health condition
- arthritis
- cancer
- asthma/COPD
- thyroid disorder
- organ transplant
- diabetes
- osteoporosis
- blood pressure (high)
- cholesterol (high)
- migraines
- peptic ulcer
- depression
- prostate (enlarged)
- pregnancy
- post-Myocardial Infarction (MI) surgery

What Are the Potential Benefits of Pharmacogenomics?

As pharmacogenomics becomes more widely used, it may bring many benefits, including the following:

  • Avoiding drugs that may not work or may lead to unwanted side effects.
  • Safer prescriptions, because a doctor may be able to predict which drugs and dosages the patient may respond to, with fewer side effects for a patient
  • New and more effective drugs for conditions such as pain, nausea and heart disease.

How is a  Pharmacogenomics Test Performed?

During a pharmacogenomic test, your healthcare provider collects a sample of your DNA, which is the material in your cells that carries genetic information. The DNA is sent to Cygenex laboratory where a technician studies the changes in your DNA that may change specific enzymes that help your body process medications.

Collecting a DNA sample takes only a few minutes. At your visit, or at home, you will use the Cheek swab to collect your DNA by rubbing a cotton swab inside your cheek to collect cells.

How Do I Prepare for a Pharmacogenomic Test?

Please do not smoke, chew gum, eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes prior to sample collection.

Is Pharmacogenomic Testing Covered by Insurance?

Insurance companies are different from each other and have different benefits and coverage for pharmacogenomics testing. Some may cover the test when it is seen as medically necessary. Your healthcare provider will work with you to help determine if your insurance will cover this test, however there may be out-of-pocket costs associated with testing.

How is Genetic Information Kept Private?

To help prevent discrimination based on genetic results, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was passed in 2008. The law prevents discrimination and harassment based on someone’s genetic information and potential for disease. GINA prohibits an employer from using genetic information to make an employment decision as well as retaliation against someone who files a charge of genetic discrimination. The protections GINA offers for insurance apply only to health insurance. GINA does not apply to life, long-term care, or disability insurance. Additionally, GINA does not apply to individuals with military insurance.

Why Am I Only Tested Once?

Your genetic make-up does not change over time. You may, however, have other pharmacogenetic tests performed if you take a different drug with a different associated pharmacogenetic test.

Does This Mean My Drug Levels Do Not Have To Be Monitored?

No. Since there are other factors that affect drug levels besides your genetics, therapeutic drug monitoring may still be necessary.

Should Family Members Be Tested?

This is a question to discuss with your healthcare provider and your family members. In some cases, it may be useful; in others it may only be relevant if they are going to be taking the same drug or a drug in the same class. Pharmacogenetic test results are useful information for a family member to share with the healthcare practitioner along with the family's medical history.

How Do I Know Whether or Not I Should Have Testing Done?

You and your healthcare provider should consider the condition that you have, your history of drug-related side effects and/or adverse drug reactions, the drug therapies that are available, and the uses the test is intended for. Pharmacogenetic tests are not meant to stand alone but are meant to be used in conjunction with your other clinical findings.

How Long Does It Take to Get the Test Results?

Test results will typically be available within 10 - 14 working days following receipt of the sample at our lab.

Who will Interpret the Test Results?

You DNA information will be analyzed by our lab bioinformatics group using proprietary algorithms. The results will be presented to your healthcare provider in a clear, concise, and easy to understand report.

What are Your Laboratory Qualifications?

Cygenex uses a laboratory which is accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP #8042697 CLIA #05D2043189;); certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA #05D2043189).