Pharmacogenetics and Medications!

Medications

I have a love/hate relationship with medication!

I’m a nurse…I know medications are needed and have saved so many lives. But I also know they have contributed to so many bad outcomes, addiction and even deaths. Which makes my heart hurt.

Through the years of my nursing career, it has not been unusual to find patients who are taking thirty different medications on a daily basis. While I am not a doctor, I do understand the process of how this can happen. I’m not blaming the doctors. Medications are over sought, over prescribed, over used, illegally obtained and abused. It has created a healthcare nightmare. We have to take a more proactive approach.

So here’s the frustrating scenario (greatly simplified)…

You go to the doctor for an ailment. He/she assesses, diagnoses and then prescribes you a medication. You go to the pharmacy and pick up your medication which is sometimes very expensive. You start taking it and after several days, weeks or months, you learn the medication won’t or isn’t working for you for whatever reason. You go back to the doctor. Another medication is ordered in addition to what you are already taking or in place of the other medication. You go back to the pharmacy and pick up the new medication which may be super expensive. You start taking it and after several more days, weeks or months, you learn this medication isn’t going to work either. You are completely frustrated. This cycle is sometimes repeated many times until a person gets the correct medication or gives up. Not to mention, it costs a fortune in money, a person’s time and bad outcomes (drug/drug interactions, side effects, hospitalizations, deaths, etc.).

I’m sure you have experienced this or you know someone who has.

In comes Pharmacogenetics…What a great tool!

So what is Pharmacogenetics?

It is the study of how our body breaks down (metabolizes) and responds to medications based on our own unique genetic makeup. Based on the genes we inherited, we respond differently to medications or experience different side effects from the medications. This means our individual response to a medication that is effective or safe for another person may be less safe for us.

This can help doctors prescribe a medication based on a person’s genetic makeup and the way their body metabolizes (breaks down) certain medications. The theory is – it will take some of the guess work out of the process. There are so many for a doctor to choose from, I can’t even imagine the difficult process they go through. I’m so excited to share because I know so many can benefit from this test.

It is a very simple buccal swab. From what I understand, many insurance companies will pay for this test including Medicare. It is expensive but in the long run it has the potential to save so much…lives, heartache, money, time, bad outcomes, etc.

 Here are some great links to give you more information:

CBS Pharmacogenomics

Millennium Health Pharmacogenetics testing

pharmacogenetic tests

Pharmacogenomics – National Institute of Health

Sounds simple enough! Right? The test itself is very simple. It is a simple buccal swab of the inside of the cheek. The problem is – there are so many physicians who don’t know about the test or who can’t interpret the results. So do your research in finding one. Find out if your insurance pays for this test. Find a doctor who is knowledgeable about pharmacogenetics, who will order the test and who understands how to interpret the results. Get a copy of the results for future use.

Even though I currently don’t take any medication other than my vitamins and use my essential oils, my plan is to take a proactive approach and have this test completed on myself, because at some point I will need medications. I want to be proactive and be in a place where I can give my doctor a copy of the report and she/he can order the right medicine for me. I want to cut out some of the trial and error.

I can’t help but wonder how this testing might have helped my mother in her health and battle with addiction. If her underlying issue of anxiety would have ever been controlled in her early years, maybe she would have been on a very different path.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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