Personalized medicine has become increasingly popular in the recent years by allowing doctors to tailor their medical decisions, products and services to each individual patient. Under this model, appropriate therapies are determined by a patient’s genetic content or other molecular or cellular analysis.
Pharmacogenomics is one of the key aspects of personalized medicine, which focuses on how genes affect the way people respond to medications. With the knowledge gained from research, scientists are now able to predict whether a medication will be effective for a particular person and whether or not it will cause negative side effects. Based on this insight, pharmacogenomics allows customized treatment for a wide range of health problems including; cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and asthma.
Independent pharmacists can serve an integral role in applying pharmacogenomics to their practice to improve the quality and safety of healthcare, strengthen patient-doctor relationships, increase patient safety and reduce costs.
Integrating Pharmacogenomics through Medication Therapy Management
One avenue for implementing Pharmacogenomics is through medication therapy management (MTM), where pharmacists assess and evaluate a patient’s complete medication therapy regimen, rather than focusing on a specific therapy product. By gathering key pieces of information, e.g. which medications and supplements a patient is currently taking, pharmacists can assess current treatment and suggest alternative therapies.
Strengthening Patient-Doctor Relationships
At the patient–physician level, pharmacies that implement Pharmacogenomics can lend their knowledge of all medications prescribed for a patient and the patient’s genomic data to determine whether a prescribed drug will be the best solution for treating a specific condition. Most doctors aren’t equipped to fully assess genetic contributions for the treatment of different conditions and because of their comprehensive medications training, pharmacists are able to provide doctors with valuable insights into the best treatment options.
Increasing Patient Safety and Reducing Costs
Integrating Pharmacogenomic data into the independent pharmacy practice will contribute to increased patient safety and reduced costs. According to Medco Health Solutions, 1.5 million preventable serious medication errors occur annually in the United States. Those numbers translate into $177 billion spent on services associated with the corresponding illness and death. In addition, nearly 40% of the compounds in the drug pipeline are targeted therapies. A majority of these drugs will be prescribed for oncology applications and will take into account a patient’s genetic or biomarker information, which in turn, will help lower errors and reduce cost.
As the knowledge base of drug therapy and pharmacogenomics grows and new systems are developed to share this information, independent pharmacy will play an even greater role in creating an infrastructure for improved patient care and tailored healthcare delivery.