Study: Pharmacogenomic knowledge gaps persist among physicians

pharmacogenomicMore work seems needed to better familiarize physicians with the concept of pharmacogenomic testing, according to the results of a recent study.

The study in the August edition of Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine found that just 12.6 percent of the 300 physicians surveyed strongly or somewhat agreed with the question, “How familiar are you with pharmacogenomics?”

Study authors Johansen Taber and Dickinson report this study gels with past research on physicians’ familiarity with pharmacogenomics, such as a 2012 survey of more than 10,000 physicians that found only 10 percent of respondents felt they were adequately informed about the applicability of genetic testing to drug therapy.

Despite the 12.6 percent figure, Johansen Taber and Dickinson found that, after being presented with a definition of pharmacogenomics, 37 percent of physicians they surveyed reported being confident in their knowledge about the influence of genetics on drug therapy. This suggests that few physicians may be aware of what pharmacogenomics refers to, the study authors write.

“Pharmacogenomics” is often used to describe the broader study of how genes affect drug therapy and response. “Pharmacogenetics” is generally used to describe testing for specific gene variants that could have an impact on drug response.

Johansen Taber and Dickinson surveyed physicians in primary care, cardiology and psychiatry because these specialties collectively care for a wide variety of patients.

Nearly 20 percent of respondents said they had ordered a pharmacogenetic test during the last year, with 49.7 percent responding that they anticipated ordering a pharmacogenetic test in the next year. For those physicians that had not ordered tests and did not plan to, the most common reason for not doing so was not knowing which tests to order.

Though nearly half of respondents anticipated they would order a pharmacogenetic test in the next year, a quarter named a test not related to pharmacogenomics when asked what test they predicted ordering. This underscores the notion, the study authors write, that physicians may not understand the term “pharmacogenomics.”

When asked what should be included in an ideal pharmacogenomic educational resource, almost identical majorities said they would like to learn how to interpret pharmacogenetic results (88.4 percent) and learn recommendations for prescribing (88.1 percent.).

The authors conclude that more educational resources, ideally web-based and integrated into a physician’s daily work flow, are needed. Through the YouScript Personalized Prescribing System, providers have both web-based and live pharmacist support at their fingertips to help interpret pharmacogenetic test results.

Learn more about YouScript here. Genelex has also partnered with accredited institutions to offer continuing education on pharmacogenetics.