Pharmacogenetic testing is the process of examining a person’s unique genetic structure to help determine what medication will metabolize best within that person’s system. The idea of personalized medicine like this has been around since the 1950s. But it hasn’t been until very recently that such genetic testing became inexpensive enough to make it within reach to millions.
Medications today are largely prescribed randomly, with little regard to your biochemical and genetic makeup. This means that what works for someone else may very well not work for you. In short, it’s a pretty horribly random way to practice medicine.
Pharmacogenetic Testing can be a Rescue for us.
Pharmacogenetic testing can help us practice better medicine by having at least some idea about what medications may have potentially a great impact on your biochemistry.
There are at least two pharmacogenetic tests for ADHD. One is by a company called Harmonyx that just became available, and another is available from AssureRx. Some hospital systems, such as Duke, also can do in-house testing in their own labs. These kinds of tests usually cost less than $100 (paid out of your own pocket, typically), and will return a list of drugs, in order of their likely effectiveness for a given condition. AssureRx also offers a similar test for people with depression.
This area is still in its infancy, however. Pharmacogenetic testing is not a cure-all, and it won’t guarantee that even if you try the first medication at the top of your personal list, it will work and be effective for your ADHD or depression symptoms (other disorders will be forthcoming in future years).
But it’s an exciting development in the world of personalized medicine and improving the effectiveness of our existing treatments.