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Pharmacogenomics has the potential to save the U.S. healthcare industry $136 billion in adverse drug events and serve as a profit center for community pharmacies.
Pharmacogenomics has the potential to save the U.S. healthcare industry $136 billion in adverse drug events and serve as a profit center for community pharmacies, according to Nicolette Mathey, PharmD, RPh, creative solutions specialist with Pharmacy Development Services (PDS), during a recent webinar.
“If we can get in there with this precision medicine, eliminate the trial-and-error approach, and really help our patients, we can save the healthcare system not only money but also these patients’ pain and suffering,” Mathey said during the “Introduction to Pharmacogenomics” webinar sponsored by PDS.
Nicolette Mathey, PharmD, RPhPharmacogenomics, the study of how a person’s genes affects drug response, can be used to determine the right drug to give patients, based on their genetic makeup. “If you and I are given a medication, we are going to respond differently to it. We might have a different side effect or it may affect our cholesterol levels differently because of our genetic makeup. We metabolize the drug differently,” Mathey said.
For example, around 14 percent of patients prescribed the anti-clotting drug Plavix may not benefit from its use because they are “poor metabolizers,” Mathey noted. “If you are going to be a slow metabolizer of a particular drug, I as the pharmacist can counsel you and say, ‘This drug isn’t an ideal choice for you.’ ”
Benefits of pharmacogenomics
Mathey believes pharmacists should get involved with pharmacogenomics as soon as possible. Among the many benefits to providing this type of testing and counseling to patients is:
1. Pharmacists remain the medication experts in the healthcare arena. “We know that we are a very trusted profession and we have all this education on medications, including pathology,” Mathey said. “But, if we don’t act now on this pharmacogenomics wave, someone else – such as physicians assistants – will.”
2. Pharmacogenomics can increase pharmacy sales. Pharmacogenomics testing, which may be covered by patients’ insurance, involves swabbing the patient’s cheek with a lab-provided kit (pharmacists should involve physicians with the testing and check with state licenses) and mailing the sample to the lab. Once the report is sent to the pharmacist, the pharmacist reviews the status and recommends any necessary medication changes to the patient’s physician. The pharmacist then conducts a medication therapy management (MTM) consultation with the patient.
3. Increase patient retention and differentiate the pharmacy from competitors. “They are not getting this type of service, and this type of clinical expertise, at the local chain pharmacy where the pharmacists are being worked to death,” Mathey said.
4. Improve collaboration with other healthcare professionals. “We are learning how to work with [physicians] in collaborating, in billing the insurance companies, and learning how to relieve these doctors’ pain points. Truly provide a community partnership for them, and have them see your value, too,” Mathey said.
For more information and webinars on pharmacogenomics, call PDS at 800-987-7386 or visit www.pharmacyowners.com.