Everyone is unique and so are their genes.
At Sanford Health, we care for patients with this in mind using a personalized medicine approach. Health care providers can look at patients’ genetics and the impact of the environment or lifestyle factors and anticipate who may be at higher risk for certain conditions or predict how someone may respond to treatment.
Pharmacogenomics, also known as PGx, is an example of personalized medicine.
PGx is the study of how patients’ genes may affect their response to medications. A gene acts like a recipe and tells the body how to function, including how to process medication. If people have changes to their genes, similar to a substitution of an ingredient in a recipe, the outcome can change. The body may process medication more quickly or more slowly which can cause the medication to be more or less effective or increase the risk of side effects.
Understanding how you break down medications can be an important piece of the puzzle for your providers when prescribing and managing your medications.
What to expect from PGx
Sanford Health offers a blood test that can provide this type of genetic information.
Since the PGx results are complex, a team of clinical pharmacists reviews your results. In keeping with a personalized approach, the pharmacists complete a comprehensive medication review by considering other variables that influence medication response including medication interactions, substance use, medical conditions, and the environment.
Recommendations for medication management are then shared with Sanford providers through the electronic medical record and are also stored for future medication needs.
While PGx testing can be done at any point in your care, the benefits are greatest when the information is available before you need it. When providers first prescribe a medication, if they know how you’re expected to process a medication based on genetic results, the provider can choose a medication and dose that is specific to you.
The goal is to get the patient on the most effective medication, to reduce trial and error, and to reduce the risk of side effects. PGx is more precise than a one-size-fits-all approach, allowing patients to get on the right medication at the right dose sooner.
Common uses, limitations for PGx
One example of a change in a patient genetics that can significantly impact health is how they process the medication clopidogrel (Plavix). This medication is commonly prescribed after a patient gets a heart stent placed to prevent blood clots.
If a patient does not process clopidogrel normally, it is recommended to use a different medication. If PGx test results are available when prescribing the medication, the provider now has a key piece of information to choose the most effective therapy for the patient.
It is important to remember that while PGx information is available for many commonly prescribed medications, it is not available for all medications. It also cannot explain allergies to medications and does not provide information about genetic predispositions or conditions.
If you’re interested in PGx testing, talk with your primary care provider. If you would like to learn more about PGx or have an in-depth discussion about your results, you can make an appointment to visit the newly established Sanford Pharmacogenomics Clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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