Genetic Testing Before Prescribing Medicine Could Benefit Millions

Genetic Testing Before Prescribing Medicine Could Benefit Millions

Genetic testing has become a highly effective method for assessing and diagnosing some diseases. In the past, genetic testing was not used to diagnose or treat disease; however, recent advances have improved its use. One popular genetic test option is Pharmacogenetics testing. Pharmacogenetics or PGx is the study of how people respond differently to drug therapy based upon their genetic makeup or genes. Interestingly, the history of pharmacogenetics stretches as far back as 510 b.c. when Pythagoras noted that ingestion of fava beans resulted in a potentially fatal reaction in some, but not all, individuals. Modern science continues to improve our understanding of an individual’s genes and how medicines affect them. A new study out of the UK provides more insight not only into PGx testing but its usefulness cost-savings tool.

The new study concluded that four million UK patients could benefit annually from genetic testing before being prescribed common medicines. Researchers from the UAE, UK, and the Netherlands studied 2019 National Health Services dispensing data from across the UK. Their goal was to see how many patients started new prescriptions each year that could be optimized by genetic testing. Along with the prescription data, they studied 56 common medicines, including antidepressants, antibiotics, stomach ulcer treatments and painkillers. All of these are known to have drug-gene interactions.

The analysis found that in over 20% of cases, there was the potential for a doctor or pharmacist to take action using Pharmacogenetic testing. If this screening was applied to all new prescriptions, an estimated 9% would lead to a change of drug or dose, affecting over five million patients. Depending on the results of an individual’s PGx tests, they might either get a higher or lower starting dose or be more closely monitored during the early stages of treatment.

Essra Youssef, a research pharmacist at UEA’s School of Pharmacy, stated: “We know over 95 per cent of the population carry a genetic marker that predicts an atypical response to at least one medicine. “Our study looked at nine of these genetic markers, affecting 56 medicines that are commonly dispensed by community pharmacies in the UK. The most common of these are weak opioids, antidepressants and proton-pump inhibitors, which are prescribed to reduce stomach acid. “We wanted to see how pharmacogenetic testing, before being prescribed common medicines, could benefit patients. He went on to say, “We found that around four million patients annually in the UK could benefit from having this new technology.” “Better selection of medicines based on a patient’s genetic information could mean less side-effects and better treatment outcomes. This not only benefits the patient but also the NHS, as patients may not need to return to their GP so often to change their medication.”

Furthermore, Marc Donovan, Chief Pharmacist at Boots UK, added: “We strongly believe that pharmacy has a key role to play supporting the wider accessibility and use of pharmacogenomics. “Our work shows the benefits that patients and the NHS could get from rolling out a national screening programme as part of their plans to embed pharmacogenomics in clinical practice by 2025, and that this testing could be effectively delivered by community pharmacists. “Last year, around four million people could have had a change in their prescribing, according to our figures. This would have reduced their risk of side effects and could have led to better clinical outcomes.”

What does this mean for you?

Understanding your genetic responses to medications can directly impact your personal and family’s healthcare plan.

Vita Medical Solutions is proud to partner with laboratories to facilitate access to advanced PGx genetic testing.

Learn more about personal and family Pharmacogenetics (PGx) markers with a simple mouth swab. With qualifying insurance, this test can cost you nothing out of pocket. Click here to schedule a call with one of Vita Medical’s Patient Service Consultants.

Call us at 1.800.590.9292 (toll-free) or email at [email protected].

Test. Know. Educate. Advocate.

Read the full article here: ‘Estimating the potential impact of implementing pre-emptive pharmacogenetic testing in primary care across the UK’ is published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.


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