Stark Contrast Between Patient and Practitioner Interest in Pharmacogenetic Testing
While it’s no stretch to say personalized medicine is becoming one of the great healthcare achievements of the decade, adoption of personalized medicine concepts is currently dependent on specialty practices. At Genelex, we believe one of the next key barriers to overcome is universal clinical recognition of the value of personalized medicine, and pharmacogenetic testing in particular. Last spring Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics published the results of a nationwide survey that measured U.S. practitioners’ knowledge and adoption of pharmacogenetic testing.
The anonymous survey of 10,303 physicians found that while 97.6% of physicians agreed that genetic variations may influence drug response, only 12.9 % had ordered genetic testing in the last six months, and even fewer (10.3%) felt adequately informed about the technology. However, these percentages varied widely between specialties with the highest proportion being oncology, where 68.8% of doctors were early adopters of genetic testing.
More education needed
Previous education and training significantly affected the likelihood of a doctor ordering genetic tests, and many physicians completed their education before such training was offered; only 37.7% of respondents had received formal training in pharmacogenomics during medical school or postgraduate studies.
Despite the lack of formal training, the main obstacle many physicians face is an understanding how to incorporate PGx into their daily practice. “The knowledge gap faced by physicians is not primarily in the basic principles of pharmacogenomics; almost all respondents understood and accepted that genetic variations affect drug response,” says the report. “The gap is pragmatic and clinical – what tests are available, how to procure them, when to use them, how to interpret the results, and how to apply them in an individual patient.”
While physician interest in pharmacogenetic testing is growing, (12.9% had ordered genetic testing and 26.4% anticipated ordering in the next six months) it is still low and in stark contrast when compared to patient interest.
A study published by the National Institute of Health showed that 92% of patients would be interested in PGx testing to assist with drug selection, and 85% would be interested in PGx testing to predict serious side effects. Some had even had pharmacogenetic testing done on themselves (1%) or a family member (4%). Unsurprisingly, the interest in pharmacogenetic testing was higher in those who had previously experienced a side effect from a prescribed drug (95%).
Recent campaigns such as “Pharmacogenomics: Increasing the safety and effectiveness of drug therapy” by the AMA should be helpful in educating practitioners who are concerned about reducing their patient and practice risk for adverse drug events about the practicalities of adopting pharmacogenetic testing. If you’d like to receive a copy of the AMA brochure, or would like to learn more about how to put pharmacogenomics to work in your practice, register for the free webinar, Introduction to Pharmacogenetics: Right Drug, Right Dose