Although doctors try as hard as they can to come up with the best possible medications to treat their patients, there is always a certain amount of guesswork involved because every individual has his or her own unique reactions to any given drug. This helps to explain why some people can take a medication without any unpleasant symptoms whatsoever, while others suffer mild to severe side effects that are worse than the condition that is to be treated in the first place.
In the United States, every year, there are nearly 2.5 million people who suffer from unpleasant reactions to the medications that are prescribed to them. Over 100,000 people die every year from adverse reactions to drugs.
At times, this could be because the patient has received the wrong drug for their needs or because it has been taken in the wrong dosage. This type of problem can lead to disastrous outcomes. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the doctor has made a mistake. Often, the problem is that an individuals’ body provides an unpredictable metabolism of a medication, which can lead the drug to produce a result that is anywhere from entirely useless to very harmful.
Researchers have, therefore, been seeking out a new way to help physicians to better understand the way that a patient will react to a medication even before it is actually tried. This will stop a patient from having to be his or her own guinea pig for the use of medications.
Now, it looks as though pharmacogenomics – the science that looks into small DNA genetic variations for predicting whether a patient will have a positive or negative or no response to a drug – may have some promise. This type of genetic testing can also go beyond whether or not a medication is likely to work for a patient, but can also help to better determine the proper dosage, instead of having to rely exclusively on the typical trial and error technique.
While genes are important to contributing to the various features of your body, such as whether you will be a blonde or brunette, and whether you will be short or tall, it can also help to determine what type of reaction you will have to a medication.
Many FDA approved drug labels – including everything from statins and antibiotics to the drugs that organ recipients take for antirejection – now include information regarding genetic tests that are commercially available.
Genotyping kits have now been created that can help to evaluate an individual’s metabolism of several different types of FDA approved medications and are available at a number or commercial labs across the country. These can be very effective and helpful. The primary drawback, so far, is the price, which typically ranges from $400 at the lower end of the scale, to several thousands of dollars, at the upper end.