This month United Healthcare announced a policy which covers PGx testing for patients with diagnosed major depressive disorder or anxiety who have experienced at least one treatment failure. This is a great step forward in increased access to personalized medicine. Keep reading…
Pharmacogenomics (PGx) is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This relatively new field combines pharmacology - the science of drugs, with genomics - the study of genes and their functions. With the knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project, we can start to predict how inherited differences in genes affect the body’s response to medications.
Your individual PGx info can be used to prescribe medications that are tailored to your genetic makeup. By doing this we can increase the chances that a medication will be effective for you or we can reduce the chances of an unwanted side effect from occurring.
WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS INFORMATION?
Many drugs that are currently available are “one size fits all,” but we all know that they don't work the same way for everyone. It can be difficult to predict who will benefit from a medication, who will not respond at all, and who will experience negative side effects - called adverse drug reactions. Adverse drug reactions are a significant cause of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States. When you have a pharmacogenetic analysis performed, we can use your genetic information to predict whether a medication is more likely to be effective for you or if you are more likely to be sensitive to developing side effects. This will allow us to avoid medications that aren’t right for you altogether, or at least take steps to reduce the likelihood of side effects such as dose adjustments, adding supplements, or more frequent lab monitoring. Since your genetic information does not change, we can use the information for all medications you may need for the rest of your life.
HOW DO I GET MY GENETIC INFORMATION?
All you need is a saliva sample to get your genetic results. Most often this is done with a cheek swab that is mailed to a third party lab for analysis. At Remedy, we will collect your sample at the pharmacy - it’ll only take 5 minutes and then schedule your Pharmacogenetic Analysis appointment once your results are in. It’s as simple as that!
WHO CAN HELP ME UNDERSTAND THE INFORMATION?
Interpreting and applying your genetic information requires knowledge of how each medication works - including potential side effects, how the medication is metabolized, and how it is eliminated from the body. Since pharmacogenomics is a relatively new field, certain practitioners are more familiar with interpreting and applying the information. We recommend looking for someone with a pharmacogenomic certification, like our Pharmacogenetic Pharmacists at Remedy. We also HIGHLY recommend that you do your genetic profiling at Remedy, so that we can retain your genetic information and apply it whenever you have new medications. We will also provide you with a copy of your pharmacogenetic report and send a copy to your physician.
IS PGX TESTING COVERED BY MY INSURANCE?
PGx is not routinely covered by most insurances, but coverage is increasing with the acceptance and incorporation of personalized medicine. Some insurances may cover PGx testing and it can depend on what conditions you have or what medications you are on. In our experience the most commonly covered conditions are depression + anxiety. While Remedy does not process claims for insurance coverage for our patients, we can provide you with all the documentation you would need to submit to your insurance. We’re happy to be leading the way towards a responsible, more personalized approach to medicine.