DNA tests help Denver man, his pharmacist choose best medication

DENVER -- This holiday season, many people are buying genetic testing kits as gifts. But there is a kind of DNA test that tells you how you may respond to different medications and how they are metabolized.

There are many different companies offering this kind of pharmacogenomic tests. Most require a medical provider to order it for you, but the FDA just recently approved 23andMe to start offering it directly to consumers.

Steve Judy, from Denver, had a good experience using a test from OneOme that cost $350. The website says it analyzes your DNA to predict which medications and dosages may work best for you.

For 18 years, Steve had battled anxiety and low-level depression, taking a number of different medications while trying to find one that worked well without side effects.

“On the previous medicine, my energy just dipped,” he said.

So, he did a cheek swab and got the pharmacogenomic test. Alison Quinn, a pharmacist who specializes in genetics with Kaiser Permanente, interpreted the results. She found that Steve should not take a certain type of cholesterol medication and that the anti-depressant he had taken for five years was not recommended for him.

“So for him, having been on a number of different medications, and really struggling a lot, we were able to use this test to try to help him get on a better medication,” Quinn said.

The difference with another anti-depressant has been noticeable.

“My wife notices my mood, you know, much less anxious, much less nervous,” Judy said.

Additionally, his energy is back, and Steve is glad his change in medication was based on science rather than a lengthy trial-and-error process.

“This really accelerated the process and got me on the right track for the right medicine for me,” Judy said.

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