A closer look at pharmacogenetic tests
Let’s break this long and difficult-to-pronounce word into two parts. “Pharma” is a prefix used to describe the science of pharmacology and the study of drugs. “Genetic” refers to the genetic makeup of an individual or group of people. The Mayo Clinic defines PGx testing as the study of how your genes affect your body’s response to different medications.
Our genes influence the chemical process known as metabolism, which in this case means the way your body breaks down medications and nutritional supplements. Taking a look at your individual genetic makeup can reveal how your body is likely to utilize a particular drug. For example, if your metabolism tends to break down some medications quickly, a standard dose might not work for you. But if you tend to break down some medications more slowly, this may lead to troublesome side effects.
How this form of testing works
The first step is for a health care professional to submit an order for a PGx test. Next, a small sample of your DNA is usually obtained by swabbing the inside of your cheek. Your sample will be sent to a testing lab for analysis, and the results are returned to the health care professional who ordered your test.
Your doctor will review the test results with you and discuss how your genetic makeup may inform prescribing decisions. Along with PGx test results, your age, gender, other medical conditions, and any other drugs you take may also be factors in your doctor’s recommendations about possible treatments.
Once you and your doctor come up with your overall treatment plan, including medication, you should be able to spend less time in your doctor’s office, less time struggling with work responsibilities, and more time living the life that you want.