PHARMACOGENOMICS is the study of how a person’s genetic makeup responds to medications. Because your body has thousands of genes that you inherited that are different from everyone else’s, it stands to reason that how your body reacts to medicines can be very different from how someone else reacts to them. Pharmacogenomic testing looks at your genetic profile for changes or variations in these genes that may show where medication would be harmful or beneficial and what potential side effects there may be.
PGT or Pharmacogenetic testing has become a very efficient tool for more accurately prescribing medications and their resulting adverse side effects and is revolutionizing the way physicians care for their patients. Because great advances in technology are more accurate, in combination with the advances in interpretations of genetic data, it is becoming much more cost-efficient by reducing the trial and errors of prescribing medication and then treating the adverse interactions, not to mention the illnesses associated with it.
A person would only need to get the same specific test done only once for a specific medication because your genetic makeup doesn’t change but you would need other pharmacogenomics tests if you need other medications. Be sure to keep track of your test results and show them to your doctors and even share them with family as they may have similar responses due to the shared similarities in your genetic pool. Unfortunately, as of now, PCG tests are not available for all types of medications including aspirin and many over-the-counter pain relievers.
Based on a person’s genotype, the information is used to determine which drugs may produce harmful reactions or when they are combined with others before they are even prescribed. They can zero in on a patient-by-patient case and custom design a treatment plan without having to suffer through trying one thing and then possibly having an adverse reaction and then having to try something else. Needless to say, this could not only save the patient a lot of money but also a lot of grief and risk of being sent to the emergency room due to adverse reactions.
Benefits of Pharmacogenetic Testing
As it is right now, there are over 700,00 emergency room visits every year due to adverse drug reactions, and cause injury or death in 1 of 5 hospital patients (according to the New England Journal of Medicine). Additionally, over 100,000 people die each year due to adverse drug events according to the FDA and this is the 4th leading cause of death, ahead of diabetes, AIDS, pneumonia, and accidents including automobile deaths. The cost of this problem alone is approximately $3.5 billion including what is spent on additional medical costs due to adverse drug reactions. So the benefits of PGT testing are clear.
Currently, most physicians use a one size fits all method of prescribing medications. However, not all individuals respond to all medications in the same way. One type of medication could be toxic to one person, to another person it may work too slowly, to another it may not work at all and to yet another, it may build up in the body and cause an overdose reaction. Pharmacogenomics can predict, based on a person’s genetic code how many of these medications will respond before they start taking it.
Being able to accurately predict patient reactions to medications can revolutionize cancer treatment as well. A simple test using PGT can drastically improve patient outcomes, reduce adverse drug events, reduce the overall cost of treatment and eliminate the trial and error approach to chemotherapy dosage selection in a very short turnaround time for the test. There are current studies that show that 3 in 4 cancer patients will not respond to a given oncology medication and over 68% of patients receiving chemotherapy will suffer chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy within the first 30 days of treatment. When it comes to side effects over $11 billion is spent on the aftercare of the treatment! What is worse? It makes you wonder if it is the illness or the side effects of the treatment! PGT reduces the chances of being prescribed the wrong medication and in the wrong doses for you.
There are many different avenues to implement this personalized medicine approach with PGT including pain management, psychiatry, cardiology, thrombophilia, and many other exciting and promising results to reduce unnecessary expense, suffering, and even death with the use of this new tool available today. The costs of this kind of testing depend on your health insurance coverage and what type of test is ordered so it is something you may want to investigate, be sure to get the ICD-9/ICD-10 procedure and CPT billing codes for the specific lab tests from your doctor before calling your insurance company.
Here at Renewed Vitality, when it is indicated, we use appropriate Pharmacogenetics Testing and this is something you can discuss with your practitioner at your appointment.
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