Personalized medication intelligence - the next frontier in medicine

Jennifer Strickland


Why does one medication work for you but not for someone else?  A branch of science known as pharmacogenetics promises to help physicians prescribe medicines based on patients’ unique genetic characteristics that affect their response to specific medications. These tests are changing how physicians think about and prescribe medications for an array of complex conditions, such as mental health, pain and cardio metabolic diseases.

Millennium Health CEO Brock Hardaway can describe the potential for pharmacogenetic testing to improve and save lives while also reducing costs associated with prescribing the wrong medication. The company is a leader in developing new genetic tests for a variety of conditions and in achieving faster turnaround times—48 hours or less—to help doctors make more timely diagnoses and treatment decisions.

Millennium Health’s pharmacogenetic testing addresses a common problem in medicine: traditionally, many drugs have been developed with the assumption that they will largely work the same for everyone. This “one-size-fits-all” approach leads to a trial-and-error process by physicians that results in the prescribing of often-costly drugs that don’t work—or may cause harm.

According to recent studies, some 519 million prescriptions were written for mental health drugs in 2013 and 477 million prescriptions for pain medications. The average cost per prescription for these drugs was $47. Using genomic research, pharmacogenetic tests may save time and help to reduce unnecessary costs associated with medicines that may not work for certain patients. Pharmacogenetic testing can also help address another major problem--poor medication adherence--by boosting patients’ confidence that their prescribed therapies are safe and effective. Prescribing the right medication based on genetics can reduce medication non-adherence, as it can minimize the negative side effects some patients might experience, causing them to not take their drugs as indicated.

An example that could be shared during the discussion might involve a patient who has been prescribed blood-thinning medications after a heart attack. The doctor uses all the available information, such as weight and medical history, but may not know how the patient will react to the therapy because he or she lacks genetic information. Is the patient more likely to experience side effects, such as excessive bleeding, and what is the right dosage? Pharmacogenetics testing gives the doctor data—and also more confidence--that they are prescribing the right drug.

Clinicians who have used pharmacogenetic testing will be a part of this presentation to provide a personal look at how pharmacogenetic testing works in daily practice. We can also include a patient(s), either in person or via videotape, to provide an additional point of view and bring the story to life.

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