New Method Wellness combines pharmacogenetic testing with evidence-based therapy in the development of individualized treatment plans.

The Science of Pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes impact the body’s ability to metabolize certain medications, which may or may not produce severe allergic reactions. For health care providers, the goal of pharmacogenomics is to understand an individual’s family history and genetic make-up to determine the best treatment method for their patients. While the science of pharmacogenomics is not new, pharmacogenetic testing, also referred to as DNA Drug Sensitivity Testing or drug gene testing, is a ground-breaking practice that may improve patient health outcomes in the future, though for now it is strictly monitored by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA makes it very clear about how pharmacogenetic testing should be used. To date, there is insufficient data to establish the effectiveness of this type of testing, which is used by health care providers and consumers alike to determine the appropriateness of a medication. The FDA has issued a public warning to consumers with regard to direct-to consumer products that make claims about predicting consumers’ reactions to certain drugs. Consumers are instructed to discuss test results with their physicians rather than making their own decisions about a drug. Health care providers received a stern warning about not relying solely on these test results for treatment decisions.

The Concept of Pharmacogenetic Testing

Why do some people have a severe allergic reaction to a drug while others have no reaction at all? This is based on a person’s genotype, which influences how the body metabolizes drugs. While individual genetic variants, or the genetic makeup of each individual, play a large role in the development of diseases and somatic responses to drugs, other factors that affect how a person’s body responds to drugs include lifestyle factors such as drug and alcohol use, environmental factors such as exposure to radiation and chemicals, and physiological factors such as gender, age, and liver function (Ahmed, Zhou, Zhou & Chen, 2016).

The body’s response to a drug, referred to as pharmacodynamics, depends on the how long it takes for the body to absorb, metabolize and excrete the prescribed drug. The body produces enzymes that break down a drug, changing its chemical structure to make it easier for the body to excrete the medication. The efficacy (and toxicity) of the drug depends on the speed at which the body metabolizes a certain medication. For some, their bodies may metabolize the drug too quickly before it has a chance to work at effective levels. For others who take same medication, their bodies might metabolize too slowly, which means that toxins can build up in the body, causing a range of reactions from mild to life-threatening somatic responses.

The aim of pharmacogenetic testing is to avoid life-threatening reactions by using information that could help health care professionals predict treatment outcomes. Patients who are on multiple medications on a regular basis, or those who have had adverse reactions to a drug that resulted in hospitalization, may benefit from pharmacogenetic testing. In addiction treatment, patients who have comorbid disorders such as substance use disorders, mental health disorders and physiological disorders may be at risk for adverse reactions if they are taking multiple medications to address each health issue. Results derived from drug-gene testing can inform health care professionals about the appropriate medicine and dosage for a patient and possibly predict whether the patient will have a severe reaction to a certain drug.

Pharmacogenetic Testing for Psychotropic Medication

Choosing the right medication for individuals suffering from depressive orders is a challenge for health care professionals. Approximately more than 40% of patients stop taking psychotropic medications within 90 days due to lack of response or negative side effects (Health Quality Ontario, 2017). Common side effects may include dry mouth, nausea, sexual dysfunction, drowsiness, and headaches. Patients may also experience more serious side effects such as seizures and gastrointestinal bleeding. The problem with psychotropic medications is that they fail to achieve adequate effective responses in approximately 30% to 50% of patients who take prescribed medications for depression, anxiety and other related disorders (Arranz et al., 2019).

Findings from various studies show promises of pharmacogenetic interventions but with mixed results. One clinical study conducted by Arranz and associates showed that pharmacogenetic interventions can be useful in improving the safety of psychotropic treatments by reducing negative side effects (Arranz et al., 2019). One of the current limitations of pharmacogenetic testing is that one single test cannot determine how an individual will respond to all medications; more than one test may be required if a patient is taking multiple medications (Mayo Clinic, 2019). Due to the limited availability of pharmacogenetic tests, patients must consult their health care professionals to see if they need a drug sensitivity test before they begin treatment (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

A genetic swab test has been incorporated at admission to New Method Wellness’s treatment program, which will help guide members of the psychiatric and medical team in precision medicine. The pharmacogenetic test is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical advice but merely as a tool intended to optimize treatment outcomes. Providing quality client care means giving clients access to clinical tools and support that will facilitate their recovery faster and more effectively. Always at the forefront of medical research and advancement, New Method Wellness brings the future of addiction treatment to their clients.

To learn more about our addiction treatment center, call +1 (866) 951-1824 today!

References

1. Ahmed, S., Zhou, Z., Zhou, J., & Chen, S. Q. (2016). Pharmacogenomics of Drug Metabolizing Enzymes and Transporters: Relevance to Precision Medicine. Genomics, proteomics & bioinformatics, 14(5), 298–313. doi:10.1016/j.gpb.2016.03.008

2. Arranz, M. J., Gonzalez-Rodriguez, A., Perez-Blanco, J., Penadés, R., Gutierrez, B., Ibañez, L., … Catalan, R. (2019). A pharmacogenetic intervention for the improvement of the safety profile of antipsychotic treatments. Translational psychiatry, 9(1), 177. doi:10.1038/s41398-019-0511-9

3. Health Quality Ontario (2017). Pharmacogenomic Testing for Psychotropic Medication Selection: A Systematic Review of the Assurex GeneSight Psychotropic Test. Ontario health technology assessment series, 17(4), 1–39.

4. Mayo Clinic. (2019). Pharmacogenomics. Retrieved from https://www.mayo.edu/

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