Guest blog post by Raymond A. Lorenz, PharmD, BCPP, Regional Medical Affairs Manager, Assurex Health
Like many patients with depression or anxiety, finding a medication that works for you without causing intolerable side effects can be a long and difficult journey. Often times the trial and failure of many medications can make people feel like they are “guinea pigs”. Recent advances in pharmacogenomics (PGx), or the science of matching the right medication to a person based on their genes, have made it easier for your healthcare provider to pick an antidepressant that’s more likely to work with fewer side effects.
Personalized medicine is the concept of customizing a patient’s medical treatment based on various factors specific to that person. Pharmacogenomics is one way personalized medicine can be accomplished. In psychiatry, PGx has been used to reduce trial and error prescribing and help patients achieve wellness sooner. Specific conditions where PGx can be helpful include depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and chronic pain, among others. GeneSight, from Assurex Health, is one product that’s gaining rapid acceptance in the psychiatric community due to its proven efficacy and ease of use. After your healthcare provider takes a simple cheek swab and sends it to the Assurex Health laboratory, GeneSight analyzes your DNA and produces a personalized report that gets sent to your healthcare provider within 36 hours. Your healthcare provider can then use the report to help guide their prescribing. Because you’re born with all your genetic information and your genes don’t change over time, you can get GeneSight done at any age. In fact, many parents feel more comfortable with the medication selection for their children when their healthcare provider uses GeneSight.
How GeneSight works
GeneSight is a laboratory developed genetic test that looks at many of the genes involved when your body processes certain types of medicines. It is the only genetic test that provides this combined view to help your healthcare provider know which medicines may be a match for your genes. This test was developed in the Assurex Health clinical laboratory and is based on patented technology licensed from two world renowned medical centers, Mayo Clinic and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who continue to be research collaborators. The personalized color-coded report is easy to read and provides useful information your healthcare provider needs to select medications that align with your genes. Medications that are best suited to your genes may work better with fewer side effects (See figure).
Backed by clinical research
In three published clinical trials, patients whose healthcare provider was using GeneSight to guide prescribing demonstrated 70% greater improvement in depression symptoms over standard of care. Additionally, when healthcare providers used GeneSight, patients were more than twice as likely to respond to the medication versus standard of care. A fourth clinical trial showed that patients given a medication that was not genetically appropriate for them had 69% more medical visits, three times more missed work days, and four times more disability claims than patients who were on genetically appropriate medications. A fifth clinical trial with more than 13,000 participants showed that patients whose healthcare providers used GeneSight saved over $1,000 per year on the cost of medication.
GeneSight is a combinatorial PGx tool your healthcare provider can use to help guide his or her prescribing. By personalizing the medication selection specifically to your genetic makeup, you may have greater improvement in your depression and less side effects from treatment. Your provider at Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill has the capability and knowledge needed to use GeneSight to its fullest potential. So, if you’re tired of the antidepressant roller coaster, ask your healthcare provider if GeneSight may be appropriate for you.