By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC
I recently attended a very interesting training on Pharmacogenomics that so impressed me I really felt the need to share what I learned with others in order to help as many people as possible.
Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This is a relatively new field that combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions).
Pharmacogenomics analyzes how one’s genetic makeup affects their response to certain drugs. Having this information can be helpful in numerous ways. It can save money, save time, and even save lives.
A very basic description of pharmacogenomics is that based on genetics, people have one of four different levels of metabolizing drugs: Poor Metabolizer, Intermediate Metabolizer, Extensive (“Normal”) Metabolizer and Ultra Rapid Metabolizer. One’s level of metabolizing determines which drugs are best for that patient.
One actual case history we studied in the class involved a 30-year-old female who had a c-section. She had severe post partum pain and was prescribed codeine to treat the pain. The patient had severe side effects from the codeine, and the codeine passed through to her nursing baby causing severe problems and sadly, the baby died.
Later testing showed that the patient was an ultra rapid metabolizer of codeine, and had her doctor known this fact, she would have been prescribed different medication.
Another case we studied involved a young adult male who was prescribed wellbutrin for anxiety and depression. He then became much worse and was suicidal. Testing revealed that wellbutrin was not a good fit, so his medication was changed. He immediately felt better, lost all suicidal ideation, and reported feeling much less anxiety and depression.
Undergoing the pharmacogenomics (PGx) testing seems wise for anyone taking medication for pain management, mental health, or addiction treatment. It can save time, money, and even one’s life.
The cost for the test varies between $300-$500 and may be reimbursed by insurance.
This is a newer field of study and is worth discussing with your physician. There were multiple physicians in the class I took and they all seemed very interested in how this science may help their patients.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic or be a resource to you if needed.
About Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC
Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy, he will gladly show you pictures!)
Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families and individuals affected by addiction and/or mental health issues through counseling, coaching and interventions. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelor’s degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been leading groups, individuals and families to mental, physical and spiritual healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.