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Garrett Huxall, Pharm.D, CGP, FASCP Executive Director, PharmCareOK

As a pharmacy consultant with over 20 years of experience and now nursing home owner, I understand that medications and their side effects can critically impact a patients’ care. To aid physicians in their management and choice of medications for various disease states, I have been utilizing pharmacogenetics testing and it allows me to recommend proper medication therapy more quickly and accurately.   The tool from PGx Medical replaces the “trial and error” process consultants cannot afford in a nursing home setting.

I have numerous stories on how a pharmacogenetic (PGx) test report impacted my dosage recommendation or regimen changes. However, small adjustments in dosage or selection of a new pharmaceutical agent with guidance from the PGx report, have lead me to now select medications that can be properly metabolized. Where in the past, I would have just gone to the next drug and hoped for a better outcome.

Below are three case studies I have written:

Case Study #1 – [88 year old female Alzheimer patient that was on Aricept, Namenda and Zyprexa because she was frequently falling]. After getting the pharmacogenetics (PGx) test report, we determined she needed a few med changes based upon her genetic profile. There were certain mutations within her system that were not allowing the medication to provide therapy.  With the physician’s approval, we immediately transitioned her to a different drug, Geodon. She responded very well to this medication.  Now, we have even been able to reduce her dosage of Geodon and she has not fallen since.  This is a great outcome as she is on a lower dosage of medication than she was prior to us using the pharmacogenetics test results.

Case Study #2 – [Male patient, multiple med, pain regimen not providing therapy]. This patient was on Lortab, Asprin and an NSAID for several months. Patient continued to complain of strong pain and medication dosages were increased with no effectiveness in pain reduction. Upon requesting a pharmacogenetic test, patient was placed on Dilaudid. Once we reviewed the test results, we were able to lower his dose of Dilaudid, twice daily while continuing with Asprin.  Before the test he was taking Lortab, Asprin and an NSAID. We reduced the patients’ pain medications by 50% and he is doing much better. In reducing the medications by 50% we are also helping to eliminate many of the complications often associated with heavy dosages and large regimens of pain medications. We were also able to reduce the cost of treatment to medicare for this patient.

Case Study #3 – [Male LTC resident on multiple medications]. This patient was only on Allopurinol and was then prescribed Lipitor and had a reaction. They thought his reaction was more of a psychotic reaction so they prescribed him Geodon. The patient had a severe reaction and tried to strangle his father. He was then admitted to a Psych Hospital. We then ordered a pharmacogenetics test to determine if his body could even metabolize the medications.  By the enzymes we found, the Geodon or any of the new atypical drugs weren’t going to work for him.  So we put him on Thorazine and got him calmed down.  We then started reducing the Thorazine and now the patient is back on Allopurinol for gout and that is the only prescription medication he is taking. Great outcome!

Previously, without the PGx testing results to guide us, this change may have taken several different methods and a longer time frame to achieve results. It was very reassuring and validating to me that we were able to intervene on a much quicker basis and helped, which is a benefit to the clinical team and the medical director.

Educating the clinical team and medical directors at the facility on the value this tool provides is crucial, as there is no out of pocket costs for residents covered by medicare (and medicaid in select states). It’s important to reassure residents and family members that the medications they are taking are the most appropriate and able to provide proper therapy. A less medicated, cognizant, mobile resident allows for the home to be more efficient and profitable.

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