Does genetic testing result in a better choice of medication or more accurate dosage?
Throughout history, drugs have been developed to counteract a disease or condition and, more or less, it has been your basic “one-size-fits-all” approach. The dosage would be adjusted based on whether it was being prescribed for a child or an adult, and known contraindications, which are specific reasons to withhold a particular medication, would be taken into consideration to the best of the physician’s ability to do so. From that point on, it would be a matter of trial and error to determine whether the drug was effective and at what dosage, as well as whether the patient would display side effects.
Hit or miss is rarely the best strategy in anything, let alone medicine. The desire to have a better method for determining how an individual would react to a specific drug led to the development of the field of pharmacogenomics, which combines pharmacology and genomics. Pharmacology, of course, deals with the study of how a particular chemical substance, a drug, interacts with people or animals. Genomics is simply research into genes and how they function. Put together, the relatively new field of pharmacogenomics studies the interaction of genes and drugs, with the goal of being able to know, through genetic testing, how a specific medication will affect a particular individual.
One of the more significant roles that genes play is their part in producing the enzymes that act on drugs to metabolize or break them down so that they can be used by the body. A person’s unique genetic makeup, called the genotype, is an indicator of how this process will go for particular drugs. Some people have genes that create less enzyme than others and some just this opposite. This is a major contributor to how successful the medication will be and whether there are likely to be potentially dangerous side effects.
Everyone has personally experienced an adverse reaction to a medication or knows someone who has. Not everyone reacts the same way to different types of drugs and some of those reactions can be severe. If reading the warning verbiage under “possible side effects” on the enclosed insert for even the mildest type of drug doesn’t terrify you, then you aren’t paying attention. Most of them start with “mild headache” and end with “death”. The fact that the very same drug can be so successful in one person that it is life-altering and cause, to just name a few possibilities, rash, dizziness, diarrhea, drowsiness, constipation, nausea, headache, insomnia, internal breathing, arrhythmia, suicidal thoughts or death, in others makes this part of modern medicine far less precise than we would like it to be.
Unexpected and adverse reactions to medications are the cause for considerable suffering and loss of life. Even though pharmacogenomics is a fairly young field of study and genetic testing is in the beginning stages with regard to prescribing drugs, there is a lot of excitement about the potential. There is every reason to believe that, while it is already being successfully incorporated into medical practices, it will not be long before it will be used to tailor the type and dosage level to accurately treat everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s.
At Advanced Ketamine Care we recognize the importance of comprehensive psychiatric care in recovery from depression and anxiety disorders. Genetic testing is incorporated to gain a clearer understanding of what medications would be most effective and have the least side effects. We have board certified Psychiatrists and offer Psychiatric services including medication management for active Ketamine patients.
To learn more about our programs or if you have questions about any of our services, feel free to contact us by clicking here.
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