Genetics and Rx
Pharmacogenetics individualizes prescription drugs to improve their safety and effectiveness
We live in an exciting age of medical discovery. The study of genetics is one of those fields in which continued discoveries improve our lives every day. Advances in cancer treatment options, and the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine are just a couple of examples of the targeted actions a focus on genetics can allow. The introduction of Pharmacogenetics (PGx) is another.
We all want to know if the medication we take is the best choice for us. Sometimes we feel that a drug leaves us with unwanted side effects, or perhaps it doesn’t seem to be relieving our symptoms at all. What if we could tell exactly how our body will respond to a drug (Pharma) based on a study of our unique DNA (genetics)? That’s what Pharmacogenetics does.
If you take medications every day, you are not alone. 82% of Americans take at least one drug. Unfortunately, prescribing medications can be a guessing game that sometimes ends poorly. In fact, the 4th leading cause of death in a hospital is due to an adverse drug reaction. It is also not uncommon for a person to be taking more than one medication daily. A study in 2015 showed that nearly 36% of adults in the US are taking 5 or more medicines.
Although it is quite common for patients to be taking more than one prescription, any time multiple drugs are being used together there is an increased risk for the patient. Using multiple prescriptions is referred to as polypharmacy and can be a problem for elderly patients in particular. As people age, taking multiple drugs can be associated with more adverse outcomes, including falls, increased hospital stays or re-admissions, or even death. Pharmacogenetics aims to significantly reduce the likelihood of this happening. A PGx test can help make sure that from the outset, the appropriate drugs, at the proper dose, in the correct combination, are being prescribed based on what is best for your own DNA make-up.
Collecting DNA for a PGx test is easy to do. All it takes is a simple swab of the inside of your cheek. The sample is then analyzed by a certified laboratory which generates a detailed report for review by a pharmacist specializing in pharmacogenetics. Your genetic code is used to create a list of medications that are the safest, most effective choices for your doctor to prescribe. It also identifies which ones should be avoided because they will likely cause an adverse effect, or would have no effectiveness at all in improving your health.
Although the PGx test is not a fully conclusive solution, health professionals are beginning to see the benefits of the information it provides. It gives providers another tool for better medical decision-making, specifically for those patients requiring multiple prescriptions. There are several different drug categories that can be included in a PGx test. These include: Cardiovascular, Gastrointestinal, Diabetes, Pain, Mental Health, Auto-immune, and Cancer, with new drug data being developed all the time.
The test is still relatively new, but some insurance companies have already begun to include the test as a covered service. Given the amount of money spent on healthcare and prescription drugs each year, many individuals find the test to be surprisingly affordable, even if not fully covered by their insurance plan.
Medicare patients are in luck too! Solvera Healthcare Center, a local healthcare facility within Peoria, Illinois, accepts most insurances and is fully accessible to Medicare benefits. Our Primary Care providers can assess your healthcare needs and collect a sample for PGx testing that Medicare will cover.
In addition, Solvera Pharmacy is right on site! Our pharmacist works directly with our providers in the communication of all of your medication needs. With the additional knowledge from a PGx test, our comprehensive care team will do our best to guide you in your healthcare needs. Promoting drug safety and avoiding adverse events are important goals that we all share, and Pharmacogenetics can help make that a reality.