PRSB publishes new guidance to support personalised, safer prescribing

Genetics is changing medical practice including prescribing, and the Professional Record Standards Body has published guidance to help prescribers use this information effectively to improve patient care and promote greater choice and involvement in decision making 

The guidance sets out how information about a person’s genetic makeup can be shared with prescribers working in any care setting and patients themselves so that patients receive medications that are safer and more effective because they are personalised.  

Genomics – the study of our genetic makeup – is yielding a wealth of information that can help determine our individual risk of developing numerous diseases, detect illness earlier, and determine the most effective interventions to help improve our health.  

The PRSB was asked by NHS England to develop guidance for alerting prescribers about drug-related 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 clinical decision support tools and existing alerting systems. 

PRSB recommends:  

  • piloting an alerting system to test the guidance  
  • developing standards that support sharing drug-related genetic information 
  • working with partners in the health and care system to ensure clinical training is available to prescribers  
  • educating the public about genetics and the benefits of personalised medicines so they can be more involved in decisions about treatment choices 
  • ensuring local guidance for prescribers is developed in line with national guidance 

“If you went to your doctor and an alert came up to say that you had a genetic mutation that changes the way that you handle a certain medication, it can then be altered for you,” says Dr Reecha Sofat, clinical pharmacologist at University College London Hospital and clinical lead on the project. “It’s important that this information is shared between health providers, but we also believe it is important for patients to be aware of their genetic information and how it could impact their medications. The overall goal is to improve the prescribing of medications for better healthcare outcomes.”

“Pharmacogenomics has the potential to transform how we personalise treatments. An individual’s genetic make-up can predict whether certain medicines are likely to be effective or cause side-effects, and this information can support clinicians and patients to optimise treatment choices,” said Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer for England and Senior Responsible Officer for Genomics in NHS England. “Effective communication of pharmacogenomic information via digital clinical systems is essential to realising these benefits across the NHS. This report by the PRSB provides an important foundation of recommendations for communicating pharmacogenomic data across the digital health care record.”