Personalized Medicine and The Pharmacist

Pharmacists and their role in personalized medicine.

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Personalized medicine is the next major cornerstone of medicine.  It will allow health professionals to modify treatments for each patient to achieve optimal drug therapy and disease prevention.  Even today, it already has a major role in treating cancer patients. Since many types of cancers have specific sensitivities to certain drugs, health care professionals are able to use specific, personalized drugs to reduce side effects and enhance the efficacy of the treatment.

     It also presents a shift in our approach to provide health-care to patients.  Rather than reacting to the patient’s current illness, care can be provided to prevent these illnesses from occurring at all.  Prophylactic treatment has been proven to be less taxing on the health-care system by reducing hospital visits, and provides better outcomes for patients.  For pharmacists, there will be a greater emphasis on counseling patients to encourage patients to actively participate in pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapy.  In turn, with the help of a pharmacist, the patient may be able to avoid developing diseases and illnesses.

There are a number of implications with the shift towards personalized medicine. For patients, it could mean fewer side effects, shorter duration of therapy, lower drug costs, and better therapeutic outcomes. It could also mean better patient compliance, as patients may be more willing to take their medication knowing they can prevent lifelong diseases from occurring. For doctors, it could mean a shift from diagnosing a disease to preventing disease.  It could mean fewer patient visits and more phone calls/emails to patients to suggest lifestyle changes. It could also mean more office time spent analyzing patient genomes.

As for pharmacists, it means vigorous drug optimization to meet patient outcomes in the best way possible.  It also presents a huge business opportunity.

Ultimately, with the evolving role of pharmacy technicians, pharmacists must find a new niche in order to survive at the job market.  Of course, pharmacy technicians cannot provide therapeutic advice for the patient, but with less pharmacists being hired and more pharmacy graduates, pharmacists must create a new opportunity for themselves. Personalized medicine is one such opportunity.  Pharmacists might find a new role in analyzing a patient’s genome and making any changes necessary to a prescription to ensure optimal dosing if a patient may be susceptible to increased or decreased metabolism of the drug, leading to decreased or increased drug concentration in the body.  In addition, preventing drug interactions may be approached differently by analyzing a patient’s genome and understanding to what extent the drug interaction may imply on the patient.  Therefore, the pharmacist will be able to decide what’s best for the patient.

     Personalized medicine still has a ways to go.  While relatively inexpensive relative to perhaps just over a year ago, $1000 to sequence an entire genome for a patient may be cumbersome to most patients. Further reduction in costs is necessary to provide equal and fair opportunities for every individual. Education and training is important to provide competent healthcare professionals to properly administer personalized medicine. Furthermore, a major healthcare revamp must take place to provide electronic records and common records between health professionals.  Pharmacists are a very important part of the overall future of healthcare as medication management professionals.  We must take the opportunity and make pharmacogenomics a major role in the future of our profession.



Group 12

Written by toreylau

February 1st, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Posted in Personalized Medicine,Pharmacy

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