Using pharmacogenomic information in clinical practice

The PRSB has developed guidance for how medicines can be prescribed using information from genomic records


The study of our genetic makeup is transforming healthcare and helping professionals tailor treatments for individuals. Already genomics (the study of genes in our DNA and their function) is helping to determine our individual risk of developing a number of diseases, detecting illness earlier, helping provide accurate diagnoses, and determining the most effective treatments to help improve our health. This includes medications, with evidence growing every day to show how genes can impact the way in which our bodies will react to certain drugs.  

NHS England and NHS Improvement commissioned the PRSB to develop the guidance about how to alert doctors or anyone who prescribes medicines about genetic information which may affect the medication a person takes, the dosage, or the way in which they need to take it.  PRSB’s new guidance will ensure that this information is available and can be shared using a combination of digital tools to support better clinical decision-making and alerting systems that are currently in use in clinical IT systems. 

Notifying professionals who prescribe medications of particular genetic information will mean that alternative drugs or doses can be offered to a patient where necessary, to ensure they get the tailored care they need.  Patients living with genetic conditions and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds contributed to the project.  

“For patients it’s not just about choosing the medication that won’t cause an adverse reaction, genetic testing can also be used to pick medications that might be more beneficial, and it’s important that clinicians have access to that information too,” patient representative Laura Fulcher.

Genetic research is evolving fast and impacting the way clinicians prescribe medications. Our genetic make-up is crucial for managing treatment, and research is underway to determine how our genetics impact the medications we take. In this short video, clinical pharmacologist Dr Reecha Sofat explains exactly how this works and how this information has the power to change the future of health and care.
As new genetic information emerges, it needs to be communicated in the right way to clinicians and patients. We speak to the chief executive of Genetic Alliance, Jayne Spink, about the ways this research will be able to better support personalised treatment. “Personalised prescribing has the potential to deliver the most effective medicine at the best dose without trial and error. This could mean getting symptoms under control more quickly, shortening the length of treatment and for some, avoiding adverse reactions. ” Read Jayne’s Blog here