With an increase in drug and opioid overdose deaths, could pharmacogenetics help reduce this epidemic?alt = "opioids"

According to the CDC, since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids.  More persons died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2014 than during any previous year on record.

In an online article by vox.com, in 2016 alone, drug overdoses likely killed more Americans in one year than the entire Vietnam War.  It is estimated that more than 140 people are estimated to die from drug overdoses every day in the U.S.  About two-thirds of these drug overdoses deaths are linked to opioids

The opioid epidemic could kill hundreds of thousands in the next decade.

But how do we stop it?

In 2015, the amount of opioids prescribed was enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for 3 weeks.

So how can pharmacogenetics help in decreasing drug overdose?
When a doctor prescribes a standard dosage of a medication, they are frequently confronted with each patient responding differently.  Many patients are taking multiple medications simultaneously and they counteract with each other.

Your genetics can play a part in your risk for overdose.
Oral opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine, are metabolized by an enzyme which makes the user have a “high” feeling. Some genes are highly variable, leading to a completely inactive enzyme. Individuals who inherit these  alleles are referred to as “poor metabolizers” and are less likely to become dependent.

Individuals who are poor metabolizers of these drugs are more prone to toxicity and overdose at standard doses. But individuals who are fast metabolizers, or “ultra rapid” metabolizers are more predisposed to addiction.

Pharmacogenetic testing eventually can lead to an overall decrease in adverse drug reactions, a decrease in health care costs because of the number of failed drug trials; the time it takes to get a drug approved; the length of time patients are on medication and the number of medications patients must take to find an effective therapy.

Pharmacogenetics has the potential to change the way medicine is practiced, by eliminating the “one size fits all prescribing” with a more personalized approach that takes into account both clinical factors and the patient’s genetics. Healthcare professionals can use pharmacogenetic testing along with traditional clinical practices to predict which drugs are more or less likely to work, achieve therapeutic repose based on appropriate dosage, and know the drugs to be avoided on basis of associated adverse events.

For more information or to schedule a free educational webinar on pharmacogenetic testing for medication management, contact:  PGx Medical, info@pgxmed.com, 405-509-5112.  Or go to www.pgxmed.com.