Check Your Health: Genetic testing helps determine best prescriptions

Genetic testing helps determine best prescriptions (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) What if there was a way to know how you would respond to a medication before taking it? Well, pharmacogenomics is helping prescribe the right dose of the best medicine for each patient.

“Pharmacogenomics is the ability to actually look at a person’s genes to determine how they metabolize drugs,” said Jason Gillman, Director of Intermountain Precision Genomics.

By knowing how a patient’s body will respond to a medication, pharmacogenomics is changing the way medicine is prescribed. One of the first areas this is being used is with depression medicine.

“Depression is particularly scary because there’s a lethality to depression,” Gillman said.

Traditionally when someone needed an anti-depressant they would go to their primary care provider and be prescribed a standard dose. They would then be monitored for three weeks. For one in four patients, the standard dose worked the first time; but for the other 75 percent, they had to alter their medication, wait three more weeks, and try again until they found something that was effective.

“Now, with this new pharmacogenomics, about 90 percent of the time we can prescribe the right way the first time,” Gillman said.

Not only does this test work remarkably well, it is also affordable and non-invasive. The testing is simple. They swab the inside of your cheek, put it into a solution and ship it to the lab. Then in a day or two your provider will get your results and be able to tailor a prescription medication that is best for you.

“We want to prescribe the right dose, at the right time, for the right person,” Gillman said.

Pharmacogenomics is not limited to anti-depressants. In the near future it could help with conditions like hypertension, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy to name a few.

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