Pharmacogenetics in Psychiatry

Pharmacogenetics has the potential to radically change the practice of psychiatry according to Melissa P. DelBello, MD, MS, and Olivia Bentley, PharmD, AAHIVP, CFts. Experts in the field can see a future in which psychotropics are tailored to each individual patient. Many findings can be applied in clinical practice right now.

When pharmacogenetics testing is performed judiciously and interpreted thoughtfully, pharmacogenetics can be a powerful tool to maximize treatment response and tolerability of medications commonly used to treat mental health disorders. By 2029 many more pharmacogenetic results will become the standard of care.

Pharmacogenetics is the study of how genetic information impacts drug response and side effects. Its goal is to provide tailored treatments that will provide maximum health with minimal side effects.

Current treatments for mental health, like existing psychotropic medications (including antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and mood stabilizers) only work with some patients. While research over the last several decades has led to new classes of medications that are presumably safer and more effective, the ability to treat mental illnesses remains clinically sub-optimal. Sometimes psychotropic medications only produce a partial response. Often these medications are associated with debilitating side effects that discourage people from adhering to the prescribed treatment.

According to Genesight, the most promising outcomes to date have been in the management of depression. Using psychiatric pharmacogenomics, providers can identify at the allele-level the drug the patient can best absorb.