Mighty Blog

Children’s Minnesota pharmacogenomics program helps find safer medications for patients

Did you know? Pharmacogenomics—the study of how genes affect a person’s response to medications—can improve patient safety. This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to prescribe effective, safe medications and doses that will be tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.

The pharmacogenomics program at Children’s Minnesota

Here’s a look at our pharmacogenomics program and what a patient’s experience would be like:

Step 1

In the first appointment, our team would capture your complete medical history and talk through current experiences with medications. If pharmacogenomics testing sounds like the best plan of action, our team will order the appropriate test.

Step 2

In your second appointment, the team will review the test results with a focus on your current medication concerns. The test results will help us understand your gene makeup and how your body will break down medications.

Step 3

Then, the pharmacogenomics team will use the results of the test and work with your health care providers to adjust medications and dosages in order to improve their effectiveness and minimize side effects.

Along with your test results, our team of specialists will take into account your age, weight, other medications you’re taking, health behaviors and environment to make our recommendations.

What are the benefits of the pharmacogenomics program?

One of the main benefits of using genetic makeup to help find the right medications is to reduce the trial and error of finding the perfect medication to match the patient. Some medications can take four to six weeks to start to work, but kids can’t always wait that long for help.

“Kids experiencing depression or other mental health concerns can’t wait over a month to find out whether their medication will control their condition. We’re able to reduce the burden of trial and error through data-driven predictions,” said Dr. David Gregornik, director, pharmacogenomics program.

Other benefits include:

  • Minimize medication side effects.
  • Maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of a prescribed drug.
  • Genetic test results can be used in the future for other conditions. This is because our genes that impact liver metabolism do not change with age so the test results can be referenced throughout a person’s lifetime.

Pharmacogenomics program results of today and plans for the future

Only pediatric-focused pharmacogenomics program

As of today, the Children’s Minnesota pharmacogenomics program is the only pediatric-focused program in the Upper Midwest. Knowing that the genetic testing can provide insights as a child grows, Children’s Minnesota is working to ensure that results will follow a patient through their life (through their medical records).

When asked about the program, Dr. Gregornik said, “A benefit of testing at Children’s Minnesota is that we’ve programmed our medical record system to alert doctors in the future that a patient has genetic testing results. It ensures that a patient who’s invested in genetic testing will benefit from it when they are in the hospital or seen in our clinics.”

Reducing future costs for patient families

Testing is key to data-driven recommendations from our specialists, but these tests, in many cases, aren’t covered by insurance. The team at Children’s Minnesota recognizes the need to reduce out-of-pocket costs and testing turnaround time.

“We plan to move testing in-house by the end of the year which will enable us to develop a care plan more quickly and for a fraction of the cost,” said Dr. Gregornik.

Alexandra Rothstein