Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Interesting benefit of genetic test: Knowing in advance whether a medication will work

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Updated to reflect new understanding of the reasons for the rules regarding medical tests.

A new thing, at least to me, are genetic tests specifically aimed at finding which medications are effective and which are not. For example, I know one person who was depressed, went on antidepressants, and found that did nothing whatsoever to help. He had a genetic test done, which revealed that, yes, the antidepressant he was taking (Prozac) would do nothing for him, given his genetic makeup, but a relatively new antidepressant (Pristiq) would work well. His doctor switched him to Pristiq and improvement was quickly obvious.

Another example: a friend of the family was told about the benefits of such a test but decided to pass on it. Her family doesn’t take any regular medication and so the information seemed useless—until she discover that Novocaine had no effect at all on her son, a discovery made by drilling into his teeth after getting Novocaine.

Here’s a sample of the sort of report that is produced. It is several pages, so scroll down.

There a couple of places doing this. The report at the link is from GeneSight.com. They will not sell direct to patients because they consider the test a “prescription,” but I pointed out that one does not ingest anything, so what exactly was the risk? The risk, it turns out, that with some tests people have taken drastic action because they misinterpreted the results, so states in general have laws that medical test results must go to a medical professional and not directly to the patient exactly to avoid such mistakes. Over time, things change: pregnancy tests are now available over the counter, but once were available only through a doctor. The morning-after pill is available over the counter now. But each instance required separate deliberation of risks and benefits by each state legislature involved, and the feds get into it, too, with FDA approval needed.

The site does offer a way to possibly locate a local clinic or doctor who will do the test, and some will not add a charge, acting as a middleman with no fee.

In time, I think this test will become available to the public because, really, all you can do with it is to offer a copy to your various doctors so they will know how to treat you.

But that will require coming to terms with risks. For example, a person hears (vaguely) about it and orders it on his or her own, then gets the report and photocopies it for the whole family, saying, “You all can use this since we’re the same family”—i.e., does not understand fully what is involved and what it means—could do some serious harm, particularly as copies make their way to cousins and second cousins.

So for public safety, and until more experience is obtained, the requirement that it be done by a medical professional protects the public until the risks are fully understood.

I appreciate the insight and corrections I got, and now I understand better what is involved.

BTW, IMPORTANT NOTE: If the test is a cheek swab for DNA, as these are, it’s important not to have any food or drink for an hour before the swab is taken. If you have to go through a medical professional for the test, that can be explained. If test kits are sent directly to people, I can readily imagine someone taking a swab between bites of a hamburger.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 July 2017 at 3:54 pm

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