Pharmacogenetics and the patient seeking recovery

The manner by which medications are processed in the body, known as metabolic pathways, will vary from person to person according to each individual’s DNA. Pharmacogenetics refers to the combined study of medications and inherited genetic traits.

Why does this matter?

These common variations lead to differences in the ways medications affect individuals. Our genetic makeup determines the nature of the drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver, the method by which medications are absorbed, distributed, metabolized, eliminated from body, and the receptors upon which medications work – or fail to work.

Even members of the same family will sometimes react very differently to the same drug, with one person receiving an inadequate dose and another afflicted with toxicity. Pharmacogenetic testing will guide the physician in selecting the right dose for the right medication, getting it right the first time.

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How common are medication failures?

Failure rates are surprisingly high with commonly prescribed medications:

Antidepressants (SSRIs)

38% failure

Asthma drugs

40% failure

Diabetes drugs

43% failure

Alzheimer’s drugs

70% failure

Cancer medications

75% failure

For this reason, the FDA now requires manufacturers to identify the significant genetic markers on the labels of medications such as citalopram, risperidone, and others commonly used in the addiction treatment environment.

Are there other concerns unique to addiction treatment?

The patients we serve, because they have endured the effects of the powerful substances they abuse, will very commonly have accompanying physiological and behavioral comorbidities. It is critical that their physicians know how their patient will process the medication (pharmacokinetics) and what that medication will do to the patient (pharmacodynamics).

Furthermore, because our focus is the needs of patients seeking recover, our testing, reporting and consultation can offer your team choices in treatment suited to each client’s unique needs.