When a person is suffering with a mental health issue and is not prescribed medication that fits their personal genetic makeup, the effects can be devastating in many ways. People react differently to each medication and individuals deemed to be ‘poor metabolizers’ may experience symptom relieving impacts but may also suffer horrendous side effects, which can outweigh the positives. If not prescribed the ideal medication for their unique genetics, ‘ultra metabolizers’ may not get any relief from their symptoms at all.
“That type of patient might end up thinking that medication doesn’t work for them when they’ve tried four alternatives and had no results,” says Zahra Sakkejha, Director of Marketing at Personalized Prescribing Inc. “There are so many patients who could be missing out on a truly life changing treatment because they’re completely fed up with the system and the treatment they’ve been given.”
When a patient is so disillusioned that they decide not to pursue medication it can create real risks for the patient, their family and the organization they work for. Mental illness is extremely costly and is one of the leading causes of disability in the workplace, representing 30% of disability claims and approximately 70% of total costs.
However, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for long suffering patients and their employers in the form of pharmacogenetics, a genetic test that examines an individual’s responses to drugs and enables medical professionals to prescribe the most appropriate medication first time around, avoiding the lengthy trial and error process.
“Pharmacogenetics testing is a really valuable and amazing tool that helps the physician and patient to find the appropriate treatment on the first try,” Sakkejha says. “It means that patients can get the right medication early in the process, not after they have tried eight medications and have decided to give up on treatment.”