Personalized Medicine and The Pharmacist

Personalized Medicine and Pharmacist Involvement

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Personalized medicine is a type of medical model that utilizes an individuals genetic information to either predict disease susceptibility and/or optimize drug therapy. This process involves patients undergoing genetic sequencing and analysis. Analysis would compare the patients genetic code to known indicators of disease, by pin pointing specific genes that cause disease, or recognizing a series of multiple gene interactions to determine the prognosis. Information from the statistical data would indicate predisposition to certain diseases. Personalized medicine has the potential to completely change how several health care professionals approach diagnostics and treatment.Traditionally people are treated in a reactive manner (signs and symptoms lead them to seek medical care), but by having an understanding of which disease states one is predisposed to, proactive health measures can be undertaken. Patients are more likely be receptive to preventative measures after receiving  genetic diagnosis, knowing that they have the ability to increase their chances of a positive outcome vs. a potential of life long drug therapy or debilitation. Furthermore, personalized medicine has to ability to decrease the emotion burden that comes with a diagnosis that a patient has limited or no control over. It is important to consider patient compliance with taking an initiative and getting their genome sequenced. Misconceptions about confidentiality and discrimination would have to be addressed, and a cost consideration and potential for subsidization.  Patient compliance is a concern because patients may have mixed feelings about knowing their prognosis, especially for unpreventable diseases that appear later in life. The opportunity of targeted drug therapy is a further benefit of personalized medicine, as adverse drug reactions and toxicity would be preventable. Gene-centered research could also contribute to speed up the development of new therapeutic agents, this would be particularly useful in diseases such as cancer, or diabetes  in which the patients own cells could be used and modified to become reactivated or targeted towards fighting disease.

Since current health care is a collaborative effort, there is a definite role for a pharmacist in personalized medicine. Physicians can alter their focus to preventing disease, and pharmacists can work towards decreasing adverse drug reactions and making drug therapy more patient specific. The unique and specialized knowledge of drug therapy that a pharmacist has leaves pharmacists in the perfect position to implement personalized medicine into their practice. In an ideal situation, pharmacists would have access to a patients genetic information in the pharmacy so they could refer to it when checking the safety and efficacy of a new medication. However, it is unlikely that such widespread application of this technology will be available any time soon. In the more foreseeable future, we imagine pharmacists implementing personalized medicine in a hospital environment. Pharmacists would be trained to interpret genetic data and they could then apply their knowledge of a drugs pharmacokinetic properties to determine the ideal drug or ideal dose of a drug for a specific patient. We can see this being an efficient process, especially if the pharmacist and physician can work collaboratively in the initial prescribing of medication. This would reduce the amount of trial and error prescribing, and reduce the number of serious adverse drug reactions that are seen in certain populations. As one of the most accessible health care professionals that interact with a large number of patients a day, pharmacists are in a perfect position to promote personalized medicine to the public. They have the ability to educate patients and encourage them to support the idea of genetic testing to improve patient health outcomes.

Alesha Cvenkel, Shaylee Peterson, Charissa So, Emily Wharton, Sharon Liang, Kenji Nakajima and Kenji Kashiwagi

Written by shaylee

January 31st, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Posted in Personalized Medicine,Pharmacy

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