The study of our genetic makeup is transforming healthcare and personalising care in ways unimaginable even a decade ago. Already genomics is helping to determine our individual risk of developing a number of diseases, detecting illness earlier, helping provide accurate diagnoses, and determining the most effective interventions to help improve our health. This includes medications, with evidence growing every day to show how genetics can impact the way in which our bodies will react to certain drugs.
Notifying professionals who prescribe medication of particular genetic information will mean that alternative drugs or doses can be offered to a patient where necessary, to ensure they get the tailored care they need. This year we began work on new guidance to determine how this information can be incorporated into clinical practice. Patients living with genetic conditions and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds contributed to the project and they told us that the genomic information must be actionable with clear guidance on what should be done, such as a change in dose.
Ensuring this information is available to make the use of medicines safer will require a major effort of which this guidance is only a start. Systems and standards need to be in place to ensure the safe sharing of genomic information and professionals and patients need education about this rapidly developing area of medicine and how it can inform better care today and in the future.
“For patients it is not just about choosing the medication that won’t cause an adverse reaction, genetic testing can also be used to pick medications that might be more beneficial, and it is important that clinicians have access to that information too.”