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The purpose of pharmacogenetics is to offer"personalised" treatment, in which a drug is only prescribed to patients in whom it is very likely to be effective, or to withhold a drug from patients at increased risk of adverse effects. Pharmacogenetics requires the use of genetic tests which, as with any other diagnostic test, must be evaluated for their discriminatory power (sensitivity, specificity, etc.). These evaluations are sometimes biased. Pharmacogenetics has been heralded as a means of tailoring cancer therapy. However large clinical trials with demanding clinical endpoints are often disappointing, despite initially encouraging results. Pharmacogenetic information is included in many summaries of product characteristics for non-cancer drugs, mainly in order to reduce the frequency of certain serious adverse effects. In summary, pharmacogenetics theoretically represents a step forward but must be evaluated in rigorous clinical trials, as is the case with all other "therapeutic tools".

Citation

Pharmacogenetics and personalised medicine: maintain a critical approach. Prescrire international. 2013 Jun;22(139):161-3

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PMID: 23866362

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