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In October, the FDA cleared the first DNA test meant to be marketed directly to consumers to help them determine how well certain drugs may work for them.1 The DNA test, conducted by 23andME, provides information on 33 genetic variants that the company say are associated with how patients respond to more than 50 commonly prescribed prescription and over-the-counter medications. While this test is the first consumer directed to be cleared by the FDA, expect to see more in the coming years as pharmacogenetics becomes more mainstream. But the big question is…does it really work?
Background: What is Pharmacogenetics?
Pharmacogenetics or pharmacogenomics is the study of how genetics impact pharmacology. Pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing is used for determining how an individual will respond to a particular medicine.2 With this type of testing, clinicians would be able to provide a personalized medication plan, rather that prescribing based off the average population. This helps avoid trial and error in finding optimal dosages.
What are the caveats?
The FDA’s marketing authorization came with crucial caveats. The agency cautioned that the test cannot assess whether a drug is appropriate, or gauge a patient’s ability to respond to any specific medication.3 This essentially means that a patient still needs a clinician’s insight in finding the correct medication, but utilizing the results of a DNA test can assist in the dosing process. Pricing can also vary with DNA testing. In many cases, the costs may not outweigh the benefits.
If your health plan includes Tria Health, you can talk with a clinically trained pharmacist and review all your current medications (prescription, over the counter and supplements). Tria Health’s pharmacists will help make sure your medications are effectively treating your condition(s) and identify any cost savings opportunities.