South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday November 24, 2020
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November 2020 - Volume 17 - Issue 5
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Broward Health to Tailor Prescriptions to Patient Genes

It’s a medical puzzle: Two people who outwardly seem a lot alike can take the same medication at the same dose but get different results. For one, the treatment is a roaring success. Yet for the other, it fails to work. What’s going on?

In many cases, the answer lies hidden within their genes. Variations in specific genes can affect how quickly a medication is broken down inside a person’s body, making therapeutics more or less potent, affecting how well they work.
 
Broward Health is partnering with AccessDX to offer state-of-the-art genomic testing for medication management. This kind of testing looks for genetic variations that affect medication response. It helps providers choose the right medication and the right dose for a patient’s genetic makeup. And that may lead to better results.
 
Benefits of Genomic Testing
“This November, we will offer genomic testing for medication management in five key areas,” says Dave Lacknauth, Pharm.D., executive director of pharmacy services and system integration at Broward Health. “In early 2021, we plan to make it available to all Broward Health patients.”
 
Pain Management
Genomic testing can predict how an individual will respond to pain medicines such as codeine. When someone takes codeine, the body must first break it down into its active form. Some people have a gene that slows down or speeds up this process. They may get too little pain relief or experience side effects. But when testing shows in advance that this is likely to occur, the provider can prescribe a different pain medicine.
 
Mental Health
A person’s genetic makeup may also affect response to mental health medications such as antidepressants. Ordinarily, it can take weeks to find out whether a particular antidepressant helps someone — and if not, to start over on a new antidepressant. But with genomic testing, a provider knows upfront which antidepressants are more likely to work for a patient.
 
Cardiology
Heart health is another area where genomic testing can be quite useful. “The test results help providers make decisions about medications used for cholesterol management and stroke prevention,” says Lacknauth. “For example, testing can show whether the anticlotting drug Plavix is a good match for a patient’s genes.”
 
Oncology
Cancer treatment often causes side effects. “The effectiveness of certain anti-emetics (drugs to control nausea and vomiting) can be affected by a patient’s genetic profile,” Lacknauth says. “Genomic testing can help the patient get the right anti-emetic sooner.”
 
HIV Care
HIV is treated with antiviral drugs. “The goal of treatment is to lower the viral load (the amount of virus in the body) to a level where the patient can lead a healthy lifestyle,” says Lacknauth. “Genomic testing can help achieve this goal as well as manage some side effects of treatment.”
 
What the Testing Involves
Getting this type of testing done at Broward Health involves a simple swab of the inside of your cheek. The swab is then sent to a lab for analysis.
 
“It’s a one-time thing,” says Lacknauth. “Your genes are going to stay the same.”
 
The test results become part of your electronic health record at Broward Health. That means all your Broward Health providers can quickly access helpful information about your unique genetic profile.
 
“I believe genomic testing for medication management is the wave of the future,” says Lacknauth. “Having this information takes individualized care to whole new level.”
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