Defining Pharmacogenomics: Why It’s Important in Post-Acute Care Pharmacy

At our most microscopic level, we are composed of DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) determines the color of our hair eyes. It dictates how tall we will be and even how we will respond in certain situations. In essence, DNA completely makes up a human being. So how does this occur?
When conceived, an unborn child inherits 50 percent of the father’s DNA and 50 percent of thee mother’s DNA. Obviously there is no choice as to which parent’s DNA will affect what, but in the strictest sense, a child is one half of either parent.

DNA is a self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms that is the carrier of genetic information. Not all DNA is accessible at a single point in time. Therefore, your body only accesses the specific areas that it needs. A specific region of DNA that codes for a specific product is called a gene.

For example, if your body needed to make more clotting factors due to a bad bleed, your body would access the gene responsible for providing the template for these proteins and would make them based upon the blueprint. Human beings have approximately 24,000 genes.

This is important to know in the field of medicine. Your unique DNA causes your body to metabolize certain medications differently. The specific area that focuses on this phenomenon is the field of pharmacogenomics.

Grane Rx offers pharmacogenomic testing through the Medication Insights program. But how can pharmacogenomics impact medication regimens for long-term care residents? Read on to explore the issue.

Pharmacogenomics and Post-Acute Care Pharmacy

Pharmacogenomics (Pgx) is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to medications. Until recently, medical experts thought that medications were a “one-size-fits-all” solution. For example, if a certain amount of a drug taken daily prevented clotting around a stent in individuals in clinical trials, then it was thought to do the same in every other individual.

Pharmacogenomics has disproven this phenomenon. Depending upon an individual’s genes, he or she may benefit, not respond, or be negatively affected by certain types of pharmacotherapy.

So the question then becomes, how do we know how a person will respond?

Medication Response in Post-Acute Care Pharmacy

Without testing to confirm an individual’s genetic makeup, doctors cannot be sure how he or she will respond to certain medications. Fortunately, genetic testing is now an efficient and cost-effective exercise.

Testing and analysis have become so streamlined that the generated report will advise a practitioner to consider an alternative, proceed with caution, alter a dose, or continue therapy unchanged.

This means that Pgx testing can truly personalize post-acute care pharmacy for every individual. With the results, providers can maximize benefits and minimize negative outcomes.

The already reasonable cost of pharmacogenomics testing can be offset by preventing an unnecessary hospitalization one time in a person’s life.

This is relevant for residents of Skilled Nursing Facilities as adverse effects of medications are more pronounced in the elderly population. Those that require assisted living are usually taking multiple medications for various disease states.

Therefore, using the information from Pgx can personalize their medicine and decrease the number of medications they take, the number of side effects they experience, and any doubt that they may have regarding the efficacy of a certain medication.

The Grane Rx team works with Skilled Nursing Facilities to design and implement medication safety and care transition processes. Could your SNF benefit? Call (866) 824-MEDS (6337) to find out more.

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