No two people are alike, and those in medicine are seeing what could be done to design treatments and medication to an individual’s needs.
Boiling Springs Family Medicine physician Dr. Chad Jumper said among the questions he’s received from his patients, there has been growing interest in the idea of pharmacogenetics.
With doctors also looking at how genetic testing can be applied to other areas, Jumper talked about what pharmacogenetics is and what patients may be able to expect from it.
Q: What is pharmacogenetics?
A: “Pharmacogenetics is the study of how our individual genetic make-up affects how our body processes and responds to medication.”
Q: What benefits are there to genetic testing in this field?
A: “This type of testing can help providers select the appropriate medication as well as dose them individually. Better effectiveness, tolerability, and less side effects can all result from this ‘individualized medicine.’ One exciting potential use of pharmacogenetics is the ability to select medicines such as those used to treat ADHD and depression based on genetics rather than trial and error.”
Q: How close is the United States in offering it?
A: “Currently, this type of testing is being offered in certain locations. Like most new tests or medications, issues such as cost and insurance coverage are limiting widespread use.”
Q: Are there any concerns associated with pharmacogenetics?
A: “Cost and insurance coverage, as mentioned above, are and issue. Currently, most patients are paying for this test out of pocket. Ethical concerns, such as genetic variations found through this testing possibly being used to deny patients health insurance or medications, are also important to consider.”
Q: In what other fields has genetic testing grown?
A: “Genetic testing continues to evolve in cancer testing and treatment. This has led to many advances in testing for and treating diseases, such as breast cancer and melanoma.”