Why Should I Use Pharmacogenomic Testing In My Practice?

Precision medicine improves health and healthcare, while saving costs, making it a powerful tool for physicians to find the right drug and dose, from the beginning.

Have you ever prescribed a drug to your patient only to find out that it isn’t working for them? Or worse, it caused an adverse reaction? Would you like to be able to run a test on your patients that will help you improve outcomes the first time, with the right drug and the right dosage all while preventing adverse effects?

Thanks to advances in precision medicine, you now have that ability with pharmacogenomics (PGx), a non-invasive genetic test that helps you find the right drug at the right dose, from the beginning.

The Future of Healthcare: Pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomics (also referred to as pharmacogenetics) is the study of how genes affect a person's response to drugs. 90% of the US population has at least one gene variation that effects how an individual may respond to a therapeutic agent. A PGx test looks for changes or variants in genes that may determine whether a medication could be an effective treatment or whether it could lead to side effects.

The benefit to getting patients on the right medication from the beginning is paramount. Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) account for 1.3 million ER visits yearly, with over 450,000 admissions for further treatment. These admissions average 1.7 to 4.6 days, and over 180,000 people die yearly due to ADEs.

Not only can PGx provide recommendations for better suited medicines, often at lower costs, but it can reduce readmissions to the hospital by up to 39% and reduce emergency room visits by up to 79%. Most importantly, data shows that PGx testing could reduce mortality rates by 85%.

When to Consider PGx Testing with a Patient

Very few technologies are able to improve care while improving outcomes and reducing costs. What might be indications for when to turn to PGx testing to help you determine the best medication for your patients? The following guidelines will help you make more informed decisions for your patients.

  • Symptoms suggestive of drug metabolism concerns

  • Toxicity or adverse reactions — for example, to carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol), allopurinol (Zyloprim) or abacavir (Ziagen, Epzicom, Trizivir)

  • Efficacy issues — for example, with codeine or tramadol (Ultram)

  • Medication noncompliance due to unwarranted side effects or lack of efficacy

  • Self-adjustment of medication dose or frequency

  • Prescription of a medication with a known adverse drug reaction

  • Patient desire for testing

Pharmacogenomics should be considered in conjunction with other patient-specific factors, such as age, sex, liver function and kidney function.

Thanks to advances in precision medicine, you now have that ability with pharmacogenomics (PGx), a non-invasive genetic test that helps you find the right drug at the right dose, from the beginning.

The Benefits and Limitations of Pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomic testing will not identify drug allergies, drug-drug interactions, or drug-food interactions. Similarly, pharmacogenomic testing results are applicable only to the genes tested and cannot tell patients how they will respond to all medications.

Pharmacogenomic testing can increase effectiveness of needed therapies, avoid cost and patient frustration by eliminating ineffective therapies, and prevent or minimize adverse drug reactions.

CME Certification Course For Health Professionals Now Available

Healthcare professionals face substantial challenges in utilizing genetic information, namely translating genetic risk into clinical action (Christensen et al., 2016). It is unsurprising therefore that full integration of genomic medicine in primary care settings has been slow to materialize (Rahimzadeh & Bartlett, 2014).

It is essential for all health care professionals to have a solid understanding of genetics and genomics given the rapidly evolving nature of this medical specialty. There is an increasing awareness and thirst for knowledge about personal health risks and genetics from the public sector, and the strengthened links between genomics and health outcomes.

If you would like to learn more about pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenomic testing, Cygenex now offers an online CME certificate course for physicians and health providers.

Visit to learn more and register.

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