How does pharmacogenetic testing help avoid adverse events?
It is common practice to first try patients on a medication then adjust doses or switch to another medication if there are side effects or if the drug does not work. Pharmacogenetic testing reduces the use of the trial and error method for managing medications that can have significant side effects or may not be effective in certain types of patients.
For example, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and similar drugs have a warning about prescribing them to patients who are ultra rapid metabolizers. This is because these drugs are converted to morphine and ultra rapid metabolizers will convert them to morphine at a greater extent, leading to serious adverse effects. Avoiding these opioids in ultra rapid metabolizers prevents potentially deadly adverse events.
Prescribing Plavix to a patient who does not metabolize the pro-drug into its active form reduces the anticoagulant effect of Plavix. Pharmacogenetic testing helps identify patients who may not respond well to Plavix so that a different antiplatelet is used.
How does testing lower healthcare costs, increase clinical efficiencies while improving patient quality of life?
Avoiding trial and error is the simple answer. If a physician can accurately select the right medication at the right dose during the first patient visit the healthcare system will gain the following benefits that impact healthcare cost:
Studies show that 38% of Americans do not metabolize antidepressants properly and 50% of Americans are poor metabolizers of arthritis medications.