Wouldn’t you like to know how your genes may influence your response to medications?

Whether you find yourself in the ER, preparing for a root canal, recovering from a heart attack or dealing with a cancer diagnosis, you want to know that the treatments you may receive are likely to work properly. Due to changes in DNA, many people have been shown to have a slower response or no response to specific medications, while others may experience increased side effects.

What Genes Do Scientist Think Affect Responses to Medications?

For decades, scientists around the world have studied how different changes in DNA effect the metabolism of medications. While some genes are very specific, others may have broader impacts. The ‘CYP’ genes (ie. CYP2D6, CYP2C19, CYP2C9, CYP3A4) are involved in the metabolism of a majority of medications. For instance, CYP2D6 is involved in the metabolism of approximately 25% of all medications. Sometimes a combination of these and other genes work together to metabolize medications. For example, three genes (ABCB1, CYP3A5 & SLCO1B1) appear to work in combination to metabolize some cholesterol lowering medications.

Changes in one or more of these genes can lead to increased or decreased rates of metabolism which, in turn, may alter the effects of that medication. For people with these metabolism changes, it is possible to experience reduced response, no response or an adverse response to some medications. Physicians and pharmacists may be able to utilize information on changes in a patient’s genes to better select effective treatments.

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What is Covered?

Changes in a person’s DNA are associated in the scientific literature with the following classes of medications:

ADHD, Anesthetics, Antiarrhythmics, Anticoagulants, Antidepressants, Antidiabetics, Antiepileptics, Antihypertensives, Antipsychotics, Antivirals, Benzodiazepines, Chemotherapeutics, Cholesterol Lowering Agents, Corticosteroids, Immunosuppressants, Muscle Relaxants, NSAIDs, Opioids, Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors and Proton Pump Inhibitors.

Additionally, genetic changes in two genes (Factor 2 & Factor 5) are included as they have been reported to be associated with risk for blood clot development.

These studies have not been reviewed by the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC) or the FDA.