The terms pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics are abbreviated the same and sometimes used interchangeably. Pharmacogenetics is the study of which genes are involved in each drug’s metabolism, and pharmacogenomics studies exactly how each gene works in each drug’s metabolism, in essence, how a patient with a specific gene variant will respond to a specific drug.
PGx testing is one tool that can help healthcare providers determine the best medication for a particular patient. PGx is altering the way drugs are developed and changing how medications are prescribed and administered to patients. PGx uses information from an individual’s genome and evaluates drug pharmacology to select drugs and drug dosages that are likely to be most effective. PGx expands the potential for personalized medication for patients and will likely transform pharmacy practice.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) published a statement on the role of the pharmacist in clinical pharmacogenomics stating, “pharmacists have a responsibility to take a prominent role in the clinical applications of pharmacogenomics.”
The purpose of PGx testing is to find out if a medication is right for a specific patient. The pharmacist sends a small saliva sample taken at the pharmacy, along with information about the patient and current drug therapies to the testing lab to help determine
- Whether a medication may be an effective treatment
- What the best dose of a medication
- Whether there could be serious side effects from a medication
The laboratory looks for changes or variants in one or more genes that can affect the response to over two hundred medications known to be impacted by genetics, and that number is continually growing. The results are laid out in an easy to interpret report provided to the pharmacist, who can then evaluate any changes to be made to a patient’s medications and respective dosages.