Pharmacogenomics Genomic Medicine Center


Adverse drug reactions, over prescribing, under prescribing, and trial-and-error attempts to identify appropriate medications puts people at risk and wastes billions of dollars every year.

Half of the U.S. adult population uses at least one medication on a regular basis, and 15% are using five or more. Adverse drug events among adults are estimated by the Center For Disease Control (CDC) to cost in excess of $3 billion every year.

In the past, educated guessing was the best we could do. Sometimes we got lucky and got it right on the first try. Sometimes it took trying several different medications to find the right fit. And sometimes the results were deadly. Now we have a better option: pharmacogenomic testing.

Pharmacogenomic testing evaluates key genes involved in drug metabolism, transport, and elimination. It informs the selection of the right drug and appropriate dosage—tailored to an individual’s genomic predispositions and specific biochemistry.

This proactive approach helps to identify how any individual may process prescription and over-the-counter medications. In our experience, the most value comes from knowing this information before you are ever prescribed a medication.

The effectiveness and risk of adverse effects of medications such as opioids—in the public eye due to the current epidemic—are impacted by genes.

Depending on your specific gene coding, you may actually gain little benefit but have significant risk for negative side effects with certain medications.

Some medications may require a much higher dosage to obtain the required impact. Take for example codeine, a common opioid prescribed for pain. Codeine itself does not actually provide the pain relief. It has to be converted into its active form, morphine, to have the desired effect. And here is where knowing your genotype can make all the difference.

Perhaps this has happened to you – you were prescribed codeine and complained to your doctor that it wasn’t working well. He or she may have felt you were just complaining, having no idea that the medication you were prescribed really wasn’t working because of your genes.

If you are what we call a “slow metabolizer” for converting codeine to morphine, you won’t have enough morphine in your system –  resulting in inadequate pain relief. 

Or perhaps you were told when you were nursing your newborn baby that codeine was safe to take for pain relief after your C-section. But this common practice has led to some dire consequences – those babies got too much morphine and suffered ill-effects, or even died. Why is this? Again, it’s your genes.

If you are a “fast metabolizer”, you have an increased risk of morphine toxicity due to more rapid conversion. And if you are breastfeeding, that means your baby is at risk too.

So before you are prescribed any new medication, or even if you are already on medication – wouldn’t you want to know if this was right for you?

Pharmacogenomic testing can be even more effective as a preventative tool. Why do we say that? Because almost everyone has gene SNPs that impact commonly prescribed medications.

According to a study by the Mayo clinic, 99% of the population carry one gene SNP that can affect medication response, and 89% carry two or more. Knowing this, it’s clear that proactively testing your genotype involved in drug metabolism and response before prescribing a medication is the most prudent course of action.

Adverse reactions can be caused by gene-medication interactions as well as drug-drug interactions. Many medications are metabolized by more than one metabolic pathway.

Polygenic (looking at multiple genes) analysis provides an even broader dataset for the selection of effective medications – and avoidance of potential harmful ones.

Our robust pharmacogenomic test panel evaluates more than 40 genes and 370 variants related to multiple aspects of metabolism for more than 200 medications.

Want to take advantage of this approach and empower both you and any of the physicians you work with – now and in the future? 

Learn more about our approach and request a complimentary consultation today. There is no obligation, no risk … except the risk of not knowing.

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