New trial demonstrates importance of pharmacogenomics, as outlined in our recent co-report

The Society is calling for pharmacogenomic testing to be embedded into NHS practice, citing a new study that shows implementation could reduce adverse drug reactions by 30%

Pharmacogenomic testing has the potential to help predict an individual’s genetic response to certain drugs through a simple blood or saliva test. By using pharmacogenomic testing, health and care professionals will be able to provide more personalised care, which may be more likely to have a positive effect on the patient, rather than prescribing drugs that could have adverse or no effects on the individual. 

Today, a study of almost 7,000 patients, published in The Lancet, shows that adverse drug reactions or side effects to commonly used medicines could be reduced by up to 30% if patients are first given a pharmacogenomic test.  These side effects vary in their severity, but even the milder side effects can impact on the quality of life of patients.

In this cluster-randomised, prospective clinical study across seven European countries, patients were treated based on their pharmacogenomic test results, with the control group receiving standard treatment. The trial found that tailored treatment based on the patient’s genetic profiles significantly reduced the incidence of adverse drug reactions. The trial results also support the key recommendations highlighted inPersonalised prescribing. Using pharmacogenomics to improve patient outcomes, a report the Society published last year with the Royal College of Physicians of London. The report brings together current evidence in this area and makes detailed recommendations about the skills, infrastructure and investment needed to save and improve patients’ lives. The report also recommends central funding through the relevant commissioning processes to avoid a postcode lottery and exacerbate inequalities.

The front cover of the 'Personalised prescribing report' next to text that read 'Read our report - download-now'
Download the report: 'Personalised prescribing. Using pharmacogenomics to improve patient outcomes'

In November, the Society visited Parliament for Evidence Week, where they presented the Personalised prescribing report to MPs, emphasising how pharmacogenomics will be a vital part of improving patient care in the UK. It is part of their continued work to raise awareness of the benefits of pharmacogenomics and thus, clinical pharmacology.

Professor Munir Pirmahamed talking to Minister for Science, Research & Innovation, George Freeman MP, at Evidence Week 2022.
Professor Munir Pirmahamed talking to Minister for Science, Research & Innovation, George Freeman MP, at Evidence Week 2022.

The principal UK researcher on the study, Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, the David Weatherall Professor of Medicine, University of Liverpool and President Emeritus, British Pharmacological Society, said:  

“Adverse drug reactions from prescription drugs cost the NHS over £2 billion annually in hospital admissions. Ensuring prescribing is right the first time could help save the NHS money and resources. 

“In this world-first, we have been able to demonstrate that adverse drug reactions can be drastically reduced if pharmacogenetic testing is implemented. 

“The results of this study further confirm the pivotal role pharmacogenomics can make to improve patient outcomes and will strengthen our ability to personalise prescribing across the UK and beyond.”  

Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, President-Elect, British Pharmacological Society, said:  

“A pharmacogenomic test need only be done once. Using this testing more widely has the potential to keep people healthier for longer, improving their NHS care and outcomes.  

“The Personalised Prescribing report is a key publication that demonstrates the incredible promise of this technology and the results of this trial prove that pharmacogenomics is a crucial piece of the personalised medicine puzzle.”

Find out more about pharmacogenomics at WCP2023

The British Pharmacological Society will be hosting IUPHAR's World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (WCP2023) in Glasgow from 2-7 July 2023. Expect an exciting six-day programme of cutting-edge science, unmissable career opportunities and a social programme that will introduce you to the wonders of Scotland.

WCP2023 - Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, keynote lecture 'Pharmacogenomics, clinical pharmacology and clinical implementation – progress and barriers' - Part of the pharmacogenomics (PGx) track at WCP2023

There is a special Pharmacogenomics track, which includes a keynote lecture from Professor Munir Pirmohamed: 'Pharmacogenomics, clinical pharmacology and clinical implementation – progress and barriers'

Find out more and register now
(Book by 17 March 2023 and you could save nearly 40%)

Further reading


Published: 03 Feb 2023 in Society news