We have known for some time that certain patients respond differently to similar medications. Some patients are fast metabolizers, meaning they clear and deactivate some medications quickly and some are slow metabolizers. Many people have also seen this in life with alcohol as many Asians have what is called “Asian Flush” and they cannot clear the alcohol as efficiently as other people.
The potential here with the FDA’s recent decision to expand marketing of 23andMe to include medication metabolism is that doctors can now screen for certain genetic predispositions that will help physicians choose the best and most effective medication. For example, some patients deactivate and metabolize Plavix (clopidogrel, Sanofi-Aventis) too quickly for this particular medication to be effective. If the physician has the power to screen for the genetic variant that speeds up the metabolism the physician will be able to avoid using clopidogrel on those patients and choose another more effective medication.
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