Patients would save time, money and untold suffering if they proactively have DNA testing to match medications to their individual genetic profiles, writes Konstantinos Lazaridis, M.D., assistant director of Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. It is likely not uncommon for patients with a chronic medical condition to be on what he calls a “therapeutic odyssey” in which they try medication after medication for years without getting any relief . Dr. Lazaridis’ editorial, Improving Therapeutic Odyssey: Preemptive Pharmacogenomics Utility in Patient Care appears in the October 23, 2016 publication of The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
“Therapeutic odyssey represents a protracted journey in a patient’s quest to find effective therapy for a chronic disease, often leading to unsuccessful treatments, frequent visits to healthcare providers, poly-pharmacy, herbal or alternative medicine-based therapy options and sometimes unwanted symptoms – or even adverse drug events” says Dr. Lazaridis.
The practice of using a person’s genetic profile to help prescribe the right treatment at the right dose is known as pharmacogenomics. Dr. Lazaridis says now is the time for health care providers to proactively recommend pharmacogenomics testing for all patients and enter the results in the electronic health record, noting:
“The emerging field of preemptive pharmacogenomics in clinical practice holds an enormous promise to improve the medical care of our patients,” says Dr. Lazaridis.
In today’s busy health care environment, Dr. Lazaridis notes, most providers don’t have time to ask patients how each medication is working for a specific chronic disease or whether they are having painful side effects. Consequently, they may not be getting the best treatment or may develop adverse drug reactions. For example, a 31-year-old woman’s medication to control obsessive-compulsive disorder didn’t seem to work. In addition, for 10 years, she suffered fatigue, panic attacks, palpitations, numbness and tingling sensations. The patient indicated it was ruining the quality of her life. Pharmacogenomics testing showed genetic variants were making current therapy ineffective and causing these painful side effects. As a result, her doctors prescribed new alternative therapies that are more compatible with her genetic profile, better control the disease symptoms and minimize side effects.
Dr. Lazaridis contends that pharmacogenomics testing must become a standard practice in order to improve safety and quality of care. He says doctors, pharmacists, nurses and educators must all work together to adopt practices that make it possible for all patients to benefit from the individual-tailored treatments that pharmacogenomics offers.
Learn more about precision medicine
You’ll want to save the date for next year’s Individualizing Medicine Conference. It is planned for Oct. 9-11, 2017.