Real-world applications of pharmacogenomics (PGx) in clinical settings

Published: 10 Jul 2024
By Dr Mark J Hudson-Peacock

Pharmacogenomics (PGx) is a rapidly evolving field that merges pharmacology and genomics to understand how an individual's genetic makeup affects their response to drugs. By tailoring treatments to a person's genetic profile, PGx aims to enhance the efficacy and safety of medications, leading to more personalised and effective healthcare. 

This blog post explores the practical applications of PGx in clinical settings, highlighting its potential to revolutionise medicine, improve patient outcomes, and reduce adverse drug reactions.

Introduction to pharmacogenomics (PGx)

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes influence a person's reaction to drugs. This field combines principles of pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop effective, safe medications and doses tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.

The importance of PGx lies in its potential to pave the way for personalised medicine, where treatments and medications are optimised for each individual based on their genetic profile, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

The role of PGx in personalised medicine

Personalised medicine is the customisation of healthcare, with medical decisions, practices, and products being tailored to the individual patient. PGx plays a crucial role in this paradigm by providing insights into how genetic variations affect drug responses. For instance, certain genetic markers can predict whether a patient will benefit from a particular medication or if they are at risk of adverse effects. By integrating PGx into clinical practice, healthcare providers can devise personalised treatment plans that maximise efficacy and minimise risks.

Real-world clinical applications of PGx

PGx is already making significant strides in various clinical settings. Here are a few examples:

Cardiology: Warfarin, a commonly prescribed anticoagulant, has a narrow therapeutic index, meaning the difference between an effective dose and a harmful dose is small. Genetic testing for variants in the CYP2C9 and VKORC1 genes can help determine the optimal dose for each patient, reducing the risk of bleeding complications.

Oncology: In cancer treatment, PGx is used to identify which patients are likely to respond to specific chemotherapies. For example, patients with HER2-positive breast cancer benefit from drugs like trastuzumab, while those with certain mutations in the EGFR gene may respond better to targeted therapies for lung cancer.

Psychiatry: Antidepressants and antipsychotic medications often require trial and error to find the right drug and dose. Genetic testing can guide the selection of medications that are more likely to be effective and well-tolerated based on the patient’s genetic makeup.

PGx in drug development and prescribing practices

PGx is not only beneficial for current clinical applications but also plays a transformative role in drug development and prescribing practices. By identifying genetic markers associated with drug response, pharmaceutical companies can develop more targeted and effective therapies. Moreover, PGx can streamline the drug development process by identifying non-responders early in clinical trials, thus reducing costs and increasing the likelihood of success.

In prescribing practices, PGx can inform dosage adjustments and identify potential drug-drug interactions based on a patient’s genetic profile. This precision in prescribing can significantly reduce adverse drug reactions and improve overall treatment outcomes.

Challenges and strategies in implementing PGx in clinical settings

Despite its promise, the implementation of PGx in clinical settings faces several challenges. These include the high cost of genetic testing, lack of standardised guidelines, limited awareness among healthcare providers, and concerns about patient privacy and data security. To overcome these barriers, strategies such as incorporating PGx education into medical training, developing cost-effective testing methods, creating comprehensive clinical guidelines, and ensuring robust data protection measures are essential.


Pharmacogenomics holds immense potential to transform healthcare by personalising treatment plans, improving patient outcomes, and reducing adverse drug reactions. As the field continues to advance, integrating PGx into routine clinical practice will become increasingly feasible, paving the way for a new era of personalised medicine. By addressing the current challenges and leveraging the opportunities presented by PGx, healthcare providers can significantly enhance the quality of care and patient safety.


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About the author

Dr Mark J Hudson-Peacock, BSc(Hons), MBBCh, FRCP, MIoD - Chair/Medical Director, Mantara


Dr Mark Hudson-Peacock is a Consultant Dermatologist and CMO for The Dermatology Partnership. He is an entrepreneur and is the co-founder/Chairman and Medical Director of the eXroid group of companies and the founder/Chairman and Medical Director of Mantara Health Ltd, responsible for launching the first commercially available Pharmacogenomics (PGx) test in the UK which has full MHRA registration and both CE and UKCA marks.
Therapeutics has always been a passion for him and with this knowledge he wanted to drive better and safer prescribing for patients in the UK by introducing an evidence based, affordable PGx product, having been an advisor for a US PGx company for a few years and realising the great potential this would have. Sustainability is also a passion and PGx feeds very nicely into this agenda, by significantly reducing drug waste. Understanding that 90% of medications prescribed, only work in 30-50% of patients, is the starting point.
PGx provides the opportunity to change this narrative significantly, by driving personalised medicine using a simple saliva test to generate individual medication reports for individuals to use with all their HCPs, thus allowing the right medication to be prescribed at the right dose first time, rather than the current trial and error prescribing that is carried out.

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