My patients often hear me say: “Medicine is an art not a science”. While I do not mean science is not the basis of medicine, what I mean is there are no diagnostic tests used in everyday practice to pinpoint what medication and dose a person needs. We use science to begin treatment, but we start at a recommended starting dose and often times titrate medication doses up and down based on how a patient responds to that medication. Until now!!
Pharmacogenomics is changing the way your health care provider prescribes certain medication for you. It is referred to as “personalized medicine”. Pharmacogenomics refers to the study of how genes affect the way a patient responds to medication. Medications for pain, depression, anxiety, ADHD and others can be tailored just for you. Seems too good to be true? It’s not and I will explain why and how.
Why do some medications work better in one person, and in another person low levels can be toxic? It is believed that it is related to each person’s genetic make-up. Therefore, performing a test on a genetic level can actually guide providers in choosing appropriate medications for each person – truly making it safer, quality “personalized medicine”. Before you take a single dose of medication, you can have a test to see how you’re likely to respond to the medication. With that information, your health care provider can tailor the dose or avoid that drug entirely and prescribe a different one.
The test is performed in some health care providers’ offices currently. It consists of a mouth swab taken at your visit. The swab is then sent to a lab which identifies certain genes that associated with enzymes that are responsible for breaking down and eliminating certain types of medication, for those with ADHD, depression, pain and anxiety, just to name a few. The test results are sent to your health care provider’s office, which will direct them in prescribing medications that are best fit for you.
Most private insurances and Medicare are paying for a large portion of this testing. The benefit is not having to try numerous medications and waiting weeks to see if that medication will work for you. Instead a single test, can help guide providers in prescribing the right medications, the first time.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, the research continues. The future is here. Ask your health care provider about this testing today!