Pharmacogenomics: Why Pharmacists?
By: Nathan Seligson, Class of 2015
Pharmacists have a unique perspective on medication therapies. Commonly referred to as “drug experts”, no other health professional has a deeper, more encompassing understanding of pharmaceuticals. Much like the clinical study of pharmacokinetics, pharmacogenomics is destined to be implemented by qualified pharmacists1.
Pharmacogenomics concerns itself with the effect of genetic differences on the transport, metabolism, and dynamic physiological interactions between our bodies and medications2. These areas of medical science have been mainstays of the pharmaceutical profession. While other healthcare professionals may have the capability of understanding the complex science of pharmacogenomics, the burden of implementation is most appropriate for a profession that has years of training in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.
A false assumption concerning pharmacogenomics is that the implementation of this clinical science will solely involve laboratory work followed by a computerized algorithm whose output is a precise clinical decision for an individual patient. No equation can account for every variable that goes into a clinical decision, and therefore a well-trained clinician must be involved with the individualization of therapy for every patient. This is the same for pharmacogenomics as it is for other clinical sciences. Pharmacogenomics can provide us with valuable information about how a patient will react to a medication; however raw genomic data is useless without being interpreted by a highly trained individual with a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of pharmacology and genomics.
Clinical pharmacogenomics is a natural fit for implementation by pharmacists. Pharmacists have proven their utility as clinicians3. In clinical drug therapy support, medication therapy management, and the individualization of drug therapy using pharmacometrics, the addition of a pharmacist into the role of a clinical decision maker has drastically improved patient outcomes4,5.
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