5 Ways a Genetic Test May Improve Your Response to Medications

By on May 31, 2018
Genetic Test

Have you ever taken a medication that caused terrible side effects or had no effect at all? You may be surprised to learn that it could be caused by your DNA. In fact, genetic factors can account for up to 95 percent of the reason you respond to a medication the way you do (Kalow W, et al. Pharmacogenetics 1998).

Now that we know more about how we respond to drugs and that it closely relates to our DNA, a new field in medicine is emerging. It’s called pharmacogenomics. It sounds complicated, but it may matter to you more than you realize.

Pharmacogenomic tests look at how your genes could affect your response to drugs — even before you take your first dose. These tests combine pharmacology (the science of drugs) with genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to help doctors and other healthcare professionals determine effective and safe medications and doses tailored to your unique genetic makeup.

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This type of testing can help doctors tailor a variety of medications, and this is especially relevant for women using or considering heart medications, cancer treatments, and anxiety or depression prescriptions.

A pharmacogenetic test coupled with your doctor’s help may improve your response to medications by potentially:

  1. Eliminating trial and error to find the right medication. Many of us have been prescribed a medication that ends up not working like it’s supposed to. Avoid the frustrating trial and error process and instead, ask your doctor to consider a pharmacogenomic test. The test results are designed to help your doctor determine which medications may work best for you — before you take them.
  2. Reducing or eliminating side effects. Have you ever experienced nasty side effects from a prescription? Chances are your genes had an impact on how your body processed the medication. A pharmacogenomic may give your doctor a better understanding of which drugs may cause unwanted side effects for you.
  3. Avoiding unintended interactions between drugs. There are times when taking multiple medications at the same time can cause an unwanted reaction, and in some cases, can even be dangerous. A pharmacogenomic test is designed to give your doctor detailed insight into how the different drugs you’re taking may interact with each other so he or she can avoid prescribing medications that may cause these undesirable responses.
  4. Saving time and money. The process of trial and error with prescriptions is both expensive and time-consuming. Instead of spending time going back to the doctor to discuss the side effects caused by your medication, or paying multiple co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses to try a new one, ask your doctor to consider a pharmacogenomic test. A pharmacogenomic test may cut down the time and money you spend searching for the right medication by offering your doctor additional input about which drug may the best for you to start with — all based on your DNA.
  5. Providing years of more accurate, personalized prescriptions. Your DNA never changes which means the results of your pharmacogenomic test can be used for years with multiple doctors and for many prescriptions. Ask your doctor to add it to your electronic medical record or share the report with your other doctors. Now you have the potential to get more personalized medicine.

Interested in taking a pharmacogenomic test? One pharmacogenomics company, OneOme, is working to help individuals benefit from this science through a simple cheek swab test or blood test, available by a doctor’s order. Your doctor can order the test for you, and the results will be delivered in an easy-to-read report. With help from a pharmacogenomic test and your doctor, your prescriptions now may be more effective, safer, and free from unwanted side effects. Check with your doctor to see if this test is right for you.

Linda McDowell is a nurse who believes strongly in personalized medicine. As the Director of Business Development in the West for OneOme, she is helping to make prescriptions personal by spreading the word about the benefits of pharmacogenomic testing.

A pharmacogenomic test may be what you need to get your medications on track.


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5 Ways a Genetic Test May Improve Your Response to Medications