Pharmacogenetics: Testing DNA to Find the Best Meds

Medicines such as blood thinners, antidepressants and pain killers tend to be prescribed on a “best guess” basis. From patient medical histories and their own experience (and what they’ve read about the latest research), physicians know what drug (and at what dosage) is most likely to help someone get better.

Imagine a simple test that can provide your physician with genetic evidence that helps narrow it down to the best medicinal options for you. How simple? A swab inside your mouth.

Pharmacogenetic testing analyzes your genes and discovers how your body will respond to a particular medication. Balcones Pain ConsultantsGenoRite Pharmacy, at Davis Lane west of Mopac in south Austin, offers this test; currently, no other Austin pharmacies offer it.

The body has thousands of genes that determine eye color, blood type and other individual features. Some genes show how you process medications. A pharmacogenetic test analyzes those genes to reveal whether a given medication can be effective, what dosage is best – and whether the drug could have serious side effects.

This test also can warn if a new drug is likely to interact adversely with other medications you’re taking, making the new drug ineffective or, worse, leading to bad reactions. That can guide your doctor to write a different prescription that instead should be effective.

There are limits. A pharmacogenetic test can address only one medication at a time. Tests are unavailable for certain drugs, including aspirin and many over-the-counter pain relievers.

Patients sometimes fear gene test results will lead health insurance companies to discriminate again them. However, the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) protects individuals from bias when it comes to health insurance and employment.

First, of course, determine if a pharmacogenetic test will help you. Talk to your doctor about ordering a test at GenoRite Pharmacy or contact us to see if this test is right for you.