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The science of looking at your genes to understand how you respond to certain medicines is called 'pharma-co-genomics.'  

Pharmacogenomic testing is becoming more and more accessible and can tell you and your health care providers which medicines may work better for you and which should be avoided.

Although the MyCode┬« Genomic Screening and Counseling program is not yet reporting pharmacogenomic results to program participants, work is underway to make that a future possibility.

A pilot project is taking place in 2018 under the eMERGE (electronic Medical Records and Genomics Network) program. eMERGE is a National Institutes of Health-funded consortium that fosters collaboration among researchers on genomics, statistics, ethics, informatics and clinical medicine.

Under this pharmacogenomics pilot project, 2,500 MyCode participants will be selected. Their genetic sequencing results will be reviewed for pharmacogenomic information. Those patients in need of changes to their medication based on the pharmacogenomic results will be contacted by Geisinger pharmacists.

The information will be placed in their medical records and, at the end of the pilot project, the patients will be given a written report of their pharmacogenomics results, which they can take with them outside the Geisinger system if they move or otherwise change health care provider.

As patients are the only common factor in the United States healthcare delivery system, by putting this information in the hands of the patients, we can encourage the sharing of these results so that the pharmacogenomic information is used in any healthcare setting patients encounter, not just the system that performed the testing.

The pilot project is being led by Marc Williams, M.D., the principal investigator of Geisinger's eMERGE project and Rebecca Pulk, Ph.D., a fellow in the Center for Pharmacy Innovation and Outcomes, which is co-led by Michael A. Evans, B.S., RPh, and Eric A. Wright, Pharm.D., MPH.

The PGx Report

Figuring out what to put in the pharmacogenomic (PGx) report and how best to organize it to make it easy to use and readable by patients and clinicians was another research effort that was recently completed in preparation for greater reporting of pharmacogenomic results.

Typical PGx reports are often complex and difficult to understand. There is no standardized format and little information exists about what should be contained within a PGx report to patients and clinicians.

So, Geisinger researchers conducted a study to understand how to share PGx results. The goal was to create a report that patients could understand and that clinicians could use.

To create this new report, Geisinger interviewed both patients and clinicians to find out what information was important and how to present that information.

The researchers found that the patients' ideal report was easy-to-understand, personalized to the individual and able to be used in decision-making about their health. Additionally, clinicians valued a report that was easy-to-use and available within the electronic health record.

The researchers, led by Laney K. Jones, PharmD, MPH, recently published a journal article about their research, which can be found here.

The project to devise user-friendly PGx reports was funded separately by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and led by Marc Williams, M.D., director of the Genomic Medicine Institute.