Pharmacists could offer pharmacogenetics testing: Dutch experts

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In as little as five years, community pharmacists in the Netherlands could be offering pharmacogenetics testing, therapeutic support and advice, according to international experts.

A new plan to explore and implement pharmacogenomics in primary care was revealed this week by the Royal Dutch Pharmacists Association (KNMP) and the Dutch Hospital Pharmacists Association (NVZA) at the World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“Pharmacogenomics is one of the first clinical applications of the post-genomic era, allowing precision medicine rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to prescribing,” says Ka-Chun Cheung, senior project manager at the KNMP Department of Health Research and Innovation.

The Dutch plan is based on work done by the KNMP’s working group on pharmacogenetics since 2005.

The group has so far developed recommendations for 80 gene-drug combinations, which are now integrated into the nationwide drug database incorporated into all electronic systems for prescribing and dispensing.

“This means that clinical decision support for a group of medicines and for a limited, genetically tested group of patients is already possible,” Dr Cheung says.

“The Netherlands is the world leader in pharmacogenetics. Other countries, including the USA, use our group’s recommendations.

“With these guidelines, pharmacists can customise the dosing of medicines to the individual’s needs.”

The plan is now in exploration phase with market analysis and education programs beginning this month, and pilot pharmacogenomics laboratory tests by pharmacists and primary care stakeholder analysis due to start before the end of the year.

However, Dr Cheung says there are conditions to be met in order for pharmacogenetics in community pharmacies to be implemented.

These include having an appropriate IT infrastructure, reimbursement for care, reimbursement for pharmacogenetics tests and training in place.

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