Pharmacogenetics has been around for decades but is moving to the forefront in the medical industry due to the opportunity it provides to improve prescribing safety and efficacy.

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Pharmacogenetics: Moving forward in 2018

So where is it headed?
Pharmacogenetics (PGx) is the study of inherited genetic differences in drug metabolic pathways which can affect individual responses to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic effect as well as adverse effects.

More and more healthcare professionals are turning to pharmacogenetics to help guide them in proper prescribing.  Driving this trend are the 106,000 deaths and 2.2 Million serious events caused by adverse drug reactions in the US each year.

So why isn’t pharmacogenetics more prevalent in the U.S.?
Some say it is due to cost.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) reimburse for the test because they see it as a “cost savings” long term.  According to a study in, economic evaluation studies show that PGx has a positive impact on health-care quality and costs.

Pharmacogenetics, or personalized medicine, plays an important role in the field of aging services. Approximately 44% of men and 57% of women older than age 65 take five or more medications per week; about 12% of both men and women take 10 or more medications per week. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

This is known as polypharmacy,  Polypharmacy is the use of multiple medications concurrently by a patient and is most common in the elderly.  The most worrisome consequence of polypharmacy is the occurrence of adverse drug reactions (ADRs), but increased drug costs and patient quality of life are also a concern.  Among older adults, adverse drug reactions (ADRs) due to medication can be very serious, including falls, depression, confusion, hallucinations, and malnutrition.

So what can we do to help prevent polypharmacy and the long-term health effects and costs of polypharmacy?
Education is the key.  Educating physicians, pharmacists and all healthcare providers on the benefits, both health and financial in implementing pharmacogenetics into their day-to-day patient care.  Knowing what each individual patient can, and cannot metabolize properly “before” trying the old trial and error method of prescribing can save time, money and lives.  As a patient, you deserve to know and choose what is available for your healthcare options.  That’s why patient-centered care is a top priority in 2018.

If the use of personalized medicine is widely adopted and used, it will make medical trials more efficient. It can lower the costs due to adverse drug side effects and prescription of drugs that have been proven ineffective in certain genotypes.

For more information on pharmacogenetics, contact PGx Medical, or 405-509-5112.