Can Genetic Testing Help You Get the Right Medications? | Revere Health

When it comes to medication, every individual is different. Each of us responds in slightly different ways to medication, and new technology (called pharmacogenetics) allows us to get a better look at how these medications will affect us before a doctor even prescribes them.

The process is simple. After collecting a tissue sample via cheek swab, your doctor will send the specimen to be analyzed. Your results can help determine what types of medication will work best for you based on the way you metabolize certain drugs.

Am I a candidate for genetic testing?

This test is beneficial for people who take multiple medications, aren’t responding desirably to treatment or have medication-related side effects.

Genetic testing finds subtle differences in your DNA that affect the way your body responds to certain types of medication. This helps your doctor decide the best medication for you—and with limited or no side effects.

What medications does it test for?

This test evaluates your genetics against commonly prescribed medications in the following categories:

  • Cardiovascular: Cardiovascular drugs include antiplatelets, anticoagulants, statins, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and hormone therapies. If you are a patient taking medication for hypertension, hyperlipidemia, arrhythmia or anticoagulation, you may benefit from testing.
  • Pain Management: Your genes are also analyzed to determine possible mutations involved in the way your body metabolizes painkillers, including opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and others. Pain management drugs help treat conditions like migraines, arthritis, neuropathic pain, musculoskeletal pain, etc.
  • Psychiatric: 24 different psychiatric drugs can be evaluated against your specific genetic makeup to determine your likely response and risk of side effects—these include drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, ADHD, psychosis and bipolar disorder.

Are there any risks?

There aren’t significant risks involved in pharmacogenetics, but there are some limitations to be aware of:

  • It doesn’t evaluate all drugs: Research currently only supports testing for certain drugs, including those used to treat pain, cardiovascular conditions, and depression or mental illness.
  • It’s not a tell-all: These tests are meant to identify medication responses. They won’t be able to tell you the perfect drug for your condition or potential drug/supplement interactions, but they can help you find a medication that works for you with less of a trial and error process.
  • These tests are complex: We have a limited understanding of which genes impact drug responses, and since there are likely to be multiple genes involved here, it may be difficult to see the “big picture” on the impact of gene variations.
  • You may have limited alternatives: Some conditions may only have a few approved drugs available, and patients who have genetic variations that prevent them from using and benefiting from these drugs can be left without other means of treatment.
  • Alternative drugs are expensive: It’s a huge cost to take a drug to market, so many pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to spend the money to develop alternative medications that benefit only a small segment of patients with a certain genetic variation..

These limitations do not affect everyone, and there are still many benefits to pharmacogenetic testing. Because your genes remain the same over time, the results of these tests can be lifelong in helping you determine which medications to take for your condition(s). Your doctor can offer further recommendations or answer any questions you may have about testing.

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Sources:

“IDGenetix Tests.” Althea.com. https://altheadx.com/clinical-trial-portfolio/idgenetix-tests/

“Pharmacogenomics: The Right Drug to the Right Person.” NCBI.nlm.nih.gov. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299179/

“7 Things to Know About Pharmacogenomics.” US News. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2016-08-01/7-things-to-know-about-pharmacogenomics

 

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.

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