Medicine Not Working? Pharmacogenomics May Help

Have you ever wondered why a medicine did not work for you when it worked for someone else? Or why you had a side effect from your medication while others taking the same drug did not?

The answer is simple: medications affect everyone differently. Some individuals may have mild to severe side effects, while others may not have any issues with the medicine. This is why physicians are so challenged with choosing the right medication and dose for their patients.

Currently, most drug treatment is done by trial and error. Physicians prescribe medication, and the patient tries the drug. The drug may work, or it may not. It may cause adverse effects, or it may be safe.

If the drug doesn’t work, the dose is increased. If it causes harmful or unpleasant effects, a new drug is tried, and the cycle starts over. Unfortunately, this process may take weeks or even months until the right medication or dose is found.

Well, the solution to this vexing problem may be found in your genes.


The word “pharmacogenomics” is combined from the words pharmacology (the study of the uses and effects of medications) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions).

Pharmacogenomics is part of an expanding area of healthcare called individualized, or personalized, medicine. In personalized medicine, healthcare is tailored to the patient’s unique needs.

The goal of individualized medicine is to predict better, prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases to help patients live longer and healthier lives.

This approach to healthcare is a welcomed advancement because many treatment plans don’t have all that much to do with the individual–it’s identical to what doctors would use for anyone with the same condition.

This is called “standards of care,” –the best course of prevention or treatment for the general population, or the average person.

Pharmacogenomics (Genetic) Testing

Genetic factors can account for up to 95% of drug-response variability and susceptibility 1. In other words, how a drug will—or won’t—work for an individual.

Your genetic makeup is different from everyone else’s. Gene variations are responsible for differences in everything from hair and eye color to how your body breaks down medications. Genetic testing is the only way to find your unique gene variations.

Pharmacogenomic testing helps improve your doctor’s understanding of how you may respond to certain medications based on your genetics; making it easier for your doctor make more informed prescription decisions.

Also, these tests can help in determining whether a medication could be an effective treatment or whether you could have side effects to a specific drug based on your genetic makeup.

A small blood or saliva sample can help determine if:

  • A medication will work for you
  • The dosage of a drug is correct
  • You could have serious side effects from a medication
  • You should keep taking or stop taking a medication
  • Different medicine is a better choice

It is essential to understand that Pharmacogenomic testing is not the “end all be all” answer, but it is a valuable tool that can help you and your healthcare provider determine the best medication, dosage, and treatment for you.

In the end, education is critical. By knowing what medications work and don’t work, you can avoid unnecessary spending on ineffective medicines and the wasting of precious time.

To learn more about pharmacogenetic testing options and practices offering the tests, please call IdealMD at 844-433-2563.

1 Kalow W, et al. Pharmacogenetics 1998;8:283-289

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