• John McMillin: What is personalized medicine; is it important?

    By John McMillin -

    United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland partners with FamilyWize to offer potential savings on their prescription medications and to offer news we may all use like this week’s latest article about – big word alert – pharmacogenomics.

    What is personalized medicine and why is it important? Personalized medicine, or pharmacogenomics, is the study of how an individual’s genes impact that person’s response to drugs. This field of precision medicine combines pharmacology or the science of drugs and genomics or the study of genes and their functions to choose the drugs and drug doses that are likely to work best for each individual person.

    How much does personalized medicine cost and does my insurance cover it? Personalized medicine testing must be ordered by your physician. While there is an initial cost associated with personalized medicine, long-term savings for patients is the goal. Meaning, the results of the swab test you submit will tell you which medications should be prescribed to you, and which medications should not be prescribed to you. Sharing your personalized report with your physician will prevent being prescribed and paying for a medication that simply will not work for you, based on your genetics.

    The cost varies depending on which test is ordered. Depending on your policy and reasons for testing, some insurance companies may cover pharmacogenomic testing. Contact your insurance provider about coverage prior to testing if this is a concern. You will also incur charges related to the appointment or visit with your provider, and those charges may vary.

    GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, prohibits medical insurance companies and employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of genetic information, including your test results.

    What does MedTek21 do with personalized medicine? MedTek21 is a company that uses personalized medication monitoring to help you identify potential medication risks based on your unique genetic profile. They then provide a list of medications that your doctor can use when prescribing.

    How is FamilyWize working with MedTek21 to help you? FamilyWize and MedTek21 are working together to increase awareness of personalized medicine in an effort to help patients like you save money in the long-term. Once you submit your swab test to MedTek21, they’ll send you your personalized genetics report. You should then share this report with your physician, so you can work together to ensure you are prescribed the medication most suitable to your unique genetic make-up. When a patient is prescribed a medication that is not suitable, not only does the patient’s health not improve, but they are also spending money on that ineffective drug every month. We don’t want this to happen to you.

    If you’d like to learn more about MedTek21 and personalized medicine, visit medtek21.com.

    Would you like to download your own free, prescription savings card? Visit familywize.org or call UWWC to pick up a card in person at 615-443-1871.

    John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. Email him at [email protected]

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