What is Pharmacogenomics?

As the name suggests, pharmacogenomics is the academic intersection of pharmacology (the study of drugs and their effects) and genomics (the study of the structure and function of an organism’s genetic material). Pharmacogenomics is the study of genetic differences and their effect on drug metabolic pathways. In other words, it looks at how your DNA affects your body’s response to different medications.

Pharmacogenetics dates back to the 1950s, but it has gained considerable traction in the medical community within the past 20 years. (You can read more about the history of pharmacogenetics and it’s evolution in this paper from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.) The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 gave medical professionals a wealth of insight into how DNA and medication interact. While pharmacogenomics has been largely limited to clinical settings over the past decade, rapid advances in sequencing technology (which can map an individual’s DNA quickly, accurately, and affordably) have made these powerful, personalized tests more accessible than ever.

Pharmacogenomic testing is a huge step forward from the trial-and-error, one-size-fits-all approach that medical professionals have had to use in the past. Instead of seeing if a “standard” dose of a popular medication will work, doctors can immediately determine which medication to use and how much to use, all with unprecedented confidence.

Genetics is the future of healthcare; with My Prescription Plan, it’s possible today.