Pharmacogenetic Testing: A New Advancement in Technology

Pharmacogenetic testing, a newer form of study, can completely rid the medical field of the “trial and error” testing.

Jade Lilly, Writer

Pharmacogenetic testing, also known as pharmacogenomics, is a newer form of testing used to study how your genes affect the way your body responds to different medications (Medline Plus). 

This in turn allows doctors to eliminate the trial-and-error process that millions of patients have to endure throughout their life, which can allow individuals to receive treatments that work for them faster than before. 

For example, according to the National Institute of General Medical Studies, “Pharmacogenomics looks at variations in genes for these proteins. Such proteins include liver enzymes that chemically change drugs... One liver enzyme, known as CYP2D6, acts on a quarter of all prescription drugs. For example, it converts the painkiller codeine into its active form, morphine. There are more than 160 versions of the CYP2D6 gene” (NIH).  

So, with this, it shows that numerous individuals all have different variations of the same gene, making it difficult to make medication for everyone around the globe.

Thus, the test’s ability to identify the variations, it can expediate the process of finding the right medication tenfold.  

In addition to this, the PubMed Central states, “it is estimated that the annual economic burden of non-adherence is about $300 billion in the United States” (PMC).  

Thus, with the accuracy increased with some medications, people can reduce the cost of switching around dosages and medicine, which can save individuals quite a bit of time and money in the long run. 

Plus, this test can even speed up the process of creating medication and maximizing the benefits individuals receive from the prescribed medication.  

To have this test done, you can request it from your primary care doctor. It is recommended that you have it done before starting a new medication to see if you will have dangerous side effects, the proper dosage, and whether or not it would even be effective (Medline Plus). 

The testing process usually extracts DNA from the patient through blood tests, a cheek swap, or a saliva test, so there is little preparation needed for it (Medline Plus). 

Unfortunately, this type of testing is not available for all medications. As of now, it only tests for Abacavir, Carbamazepine, Tamoxifen, and Warfarin (Medline Plus).  

Due to the test being in the early stages of its usage, it is not commonly used to determine the correct dosage for patients and is usually only used as a “last resort” for individuals who have gone through multiple medications that have not worked.  

However, with the large amount of potential it holds, and with the accuracy only increasing, this test can likely be expanded to most-if not all-medications that are currently being distributed throughout the world. 

With the expansion of the test, it can help others across the globe discover the medication that is right for them. It can also help patients receive the proper care they need without spending most of their paycheck on doctor’s appointments.