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Medication Genetic Screening(CGX) - Gain Medication Insight

What’s Medication Genetic Testing? 

Genes are passed down from our mother and father, which influence our characteristics. These include eye color, height, and other unique traits. These genes could also be the reason the same medication offered at the same dose affects people in different ways. Have you ever heard your friend complain about the unsettling side effects of an over-the-counter medication or prescription drug that didn’t give you any at all? Pharmacogenomics is responsible for that. 

Many medications that are available on the market function as one size fits all, but they don’t operate the same for everyone. If you have several genetic variations due to heredity, prescription drugs may benefit you, or not help at all. Some could even be fatal. Pharmacogenetic testing is used to study how genes affect your response to prescription drugs for more effective treatment and to reduce dangerous and life-threatening outcomes.

What’s Pharmacogenetics?

Pharmacogenomics refers to the study of gene variations in drug metabolism and response and is quickly becoming the core of personalized medicine. The word combines “pharmacology,” which studies the uses and effects of medications, with “genomics,” which examines the genes, and their function. Pharmacogenomic testing is a beneficial healthcare tool that is restructuring how medicines are being prescribed and consumed. It utilizes information from your DNA to identify genetic variants and determine which prescriptions are optimal, ineffective, or potentially hazardous to you. 

If a person is suffering from the same disorder, a single drug or several might be prescribed to alleviate symptoms. However, due to a complicated relationship between drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination, in addition to genetic data, the response for every individual won’t be the same. Pharmacogenomics aims to tailor prescription drugs based on unique genetic data and improve medication as well as patient safety.


By unveiling gene alterations through the results of genetic testing for medication efficacy, scientists can detect genetic factors that can predict how you are going to respond to a drug. Results can also help your doctor administer the proper dose before he or she writes the prescription. With extensive knowledge of disease and treatment using pharmacogenomics, resources can focus on personalized therapies that are more likely to be successful and affordable.

How does Pharmacogenetics (PGX) work?

Pharmacogenetics (PGX) addresses the influence that single genes have on an individual’s response to drugs. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are the most common genetic alterations in DNA to occur among individuals. Each SNP represents a change in a single DNA building block, called a nucleotide. When SNPs are present within a gene, they can affect how a gene functions. Researchers have found that SNPs may help predict how our bodies respond to pharmaceuticals. 

As soon as a drug enters your body, the body works actively to process and metabolize them. Your lifestyle, diet, and overall health status can influence how your body responds to a pharmaceutical drug, but your genotype is the deciding factor. Unfortunately, it’s common for patients to experience a negative outcome from prescriptions, and frustrations can lead to recurring trials and errors that are unnecessary or more dangerous. Pharmacogenetic testing identifies genetic markers to guide drug therapy decisions and avoid adverse side effects. 

Pharmacogenetic research proves that a simple buccal swab, or blood test that is given to patients ahead of time, can benefit their general state of health. When a laboratory can analyze the defective sequence of a gene involved in drug metabolism, this can accurately predict how much medicine a patient should receive.

Pharmacogenetics is helping doctors choose the right drug, and dose that is likely to work best for you. Pharmacogenetic testing may one day replace the one-size-fits-all approach and is quickly gaining popularity across many different healthcare fields. These include cardiology, dentistry, psychiatry, and other various specialized areas. 

What can you discover using Pharmacogenetic Testing?

Pharmacogenetic testing can determine your personal response to a specific drug. It is not the same as genetic testing, which helps diagnose a potential risk for disease. Genes are the basic units of our DNA. They are the segments that call for the production of specific proteins known as enzymes. Each person has two copies of most genes which are made up of their own unique genetic code, which is known as a series of nucleotides. 

These genetic variants occur throughout the population – some are benign, some aren’t. Benign variants won’t likely produce adverse side effects, but others are known to cause disease and correlate to a reaction to medicine. Pharmacogenetic testing searches for these variants and identifies them to prevent a negative response. 


How does PGX prevent adverse drug reactions? 

An adverse drug reaction is an unwanted or undesirable effect caused by medication. Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) represent a serious global health problem and are far more common than most may think. According to the FDA, recent studies estimate that 6.7% of hospitalized patients have a severe adverse drug reaction with a fatality rate of less than 1%. That means over 2,216,000 ADRs cause over 106,000 deaths annually. Pharmacogenomic testing commits to predict ADRs and prevent them from occurring. It also aims to reduce these harmful effects, decrease hospitalizations, and increase the survival rate.

The onset of an ADR might be immediate or develop over time. ADRs rapidly increase when a person is taking four or more prescription drugs. Attempts to decrease multiple medications is vital for many individuals, but it can be difficult to reduce them without causing damage in some shape or form.  The good news is that ADRs are preventable, and pharmacogenomics uses your genetic profile to improve medication safety and performance. Additionally, genetic testing for medication efficacy is expected to result in better-quality health care services, reduced health care costs, and improved medication outcomes.

Over the past decade, drugs were being removed from shelves and restricted in the U.S. market because of drug-gene interactions. Some prescription drugs cause characteristic adverse reactions, like a skin rash or a headache. Meanwhile, other pharmaceuticals can produce more unusual side effects such as hallucinations, nightmares, or vivid dreams. No medication is entirely safe, but pharmacogenetic testing aids in the balance of therapeutic benefits to recognize and reduce the number of adverse drug reactions. 

Pharmacogenetics vs. Pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomics is a broad term that describes how our entire genome influences a person’s response to a drug. On the other hand, pharmacogenetics refers to a specific DNA mutation or coding variant rather than changes across all of the genes. 

Pharmacogenetic testing benefits include:

  • Predict if you will have a negative side effect from a medication
  • Find out the proper dosage based on your unique genetic code
  • Determine whether a specific medicine could be adequate for you
  • A reduction in fatalities from prescription drug misuse

Your doctor may order this test before you begin a prescription medication, or if you are currently taking a medicine that doesn’t work. He or she may also suggest testing if your medication is making you sick. 

Pharmacogenetics personalized medicine

Precision medicine is an emerging technique for disease prevention and therapy, which takes the gene variations, atmosphere, and lifestyles of an individual into consideration. Different fields of health care are beginning to implement pharmacogenetic testing into treatment. These include oncology, cardiology, dentistry, and chronic pain management. Pharmacogenetic testing gives physicians the tools necessary to improve drug therapy for cancer, cardiovascular conditions, oral-systemic disease, and chronic pain disorders.

Testing for gene alterations enables medical professionals to adapt patient dosages to break the one-size-fits-all treatment approach, and optimize the safety and effectiveness of opioid pain relievers. Identifying these genetic variations through pharmacogenetic testing can assist prescribers to understand what the ideal, ineffective, or possibly dangerous medicines are for a patient. That can also improve successful drug therapy outcomes, reduce the need for months of medication trial and error, as well as hospitalizations. 

Does insurance cover Pharmacogenetic Testing?

Many commercial and private insurance companies limit coverage of genetic testing and genetic counseling. A pharmacogenetic test may only be covered by insurance if your doctor considers it a medical necessity. Also dependent upon the patient’s insurance coverage is, obtaining reimbursement for single-gene pharmacogenetic testing. Commercial companies that currently cover PGX testing are United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana, and Cigna. To determine your coverage, please contact your provider.