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(PGx) is the analysis of how genes affect a person's response to drugs

Pharmacogenomics is a recently developed field of drug study that has the potential to revolutionise how drugs are administered to people. By using information on a person’s genetic make up, pharmacogenomics can tailor dosages given to patients as well as greatly reduce the risk of adverse reactions or ‘side effects’ to prescribed drugs.


Pharmacogenomics research is a relatively new field of study that combines the science of how drugs work (pharmacology) with the study of the human genome (genomics). By studying how a person’s genes affect their response to drugs, pharmacogenomics testing can help to make better choices both in terms of which drugs will work best and what dosages to administer.

This means an end to the ‘one size fits all’ approach to prescribing and administering medication as it acknowledges that each person will respond differently to a given drug depending on their genetic make up.


Although drugs will have broadly similar effects on the vast majority of people, how exactly you will respond to medication is determined by your genetic make up. Some drugs are more effective on some people than others. Some people will experience side effects more severely than others. Genetic variations influence how drugs are metabolized and more than 75% of patients have significant variations in drug metabolism.

Traditional ‘trial and error’ techniques are time consuming and can lead to the user experiencing painful side effects. Using pharmacogenomics testing, we can test how your body responds to different drug classes in order to work out which medication will be most effective, and in what quantities. Testing can be carried out on:

  • antidepressants
  • anticoagulant drugs
  • diabetes medication
  • anti-psychotic drugs
  • muscle relaxants
  • opioids
  • many more

The main benefits of pharmacogenomics are:

Reduced risk of side effects – side effects with drugs range from extremely rare adverse reactions to common reactions such as nausea or rashes which can affect around 1 in 10 users. Pharmacogenomics can test in advance for side effects, eliminating any fear or uncertainty you may have over drugs prescribed to you.

Reduced costs – as dosage will be tailored according to what your requirements are based on your genes, this means you will be paying for exactly what you need rather than a standardized prescription.

Greater efficiency – by avoiding the ‘trial and error’ approach of giving you different drugs until the most effective remedy is found, pharmacogenomics testing saves time by identifying the drug that your system will respond best to based on genetic study.


Once you receive your pharmacogenomic testing kit, you need to visit your doctor to have the test administered. The doctor will collect your sample, sign the test off and will discuss the results with you once they are returned.


Our genes determine how our bodies metabolise drugs. Around 75% of patients fall outside of what is considered ‘normal’ drug metabolism. These include ‘poor’ metabolizers who need lower dosages and often alternative medication, and ‘ultra-rapid’ metabolizers who need higher dosages and are more susceptible to side effects. Pharmacogenomics development is helping to better understand these variations, leading to better treatment selection. Although use of pharmacogenomics testing is currently limited to a few health conditions, it is proving effective in reducing side effects to HIV and cancer treatment and could soon be used to aid treatment for a range of common illnesses.