Pharmacogenetics as a branch of pharmacology


Pharmacogenetics is a branch of pharmacology that studies the effect of genetic variation on drug response in patients by correlating gene expression to therapeutic efficacy or toxicity (Chung, 2017).

Pharmacogenetics is concerned with finding reasonable methods of optimizing medication therapy in relation to an individual's genotype in order to ensure maximum drug effectiveness with minimal side effects (Chung, 2017).

The pharmacogenetics method offers the beginning of personalized treatment, defined by the optimization of medications and therapeutic combinations for each individual's unique genetic composition (Alhara, 2011).

Pharmacogenetics is a relatively new field of medicine that combines pharmacology with genomics to create safe and effective medication dosages, which are specific to a patient’s DNA makeup (Alhara, 2011).

This paper explores pharmacogenetics with the focus on its description and benefits.

Understanding Drug Response through Genetics

Pharmacogenetics is grounded in the understanding that all medications or drugs are taken through a broad range of biochemical pathways that break them down after their administration. The body requires the elimination of such drugs through breaking them down using such biochemical pathways, which are created by an individual's genes (Grant, 2004).

The term pharmacogenetics originates from pharmacology and genetics and is, therefore, an intersection of genetics and pharmaceuticals (Grant, 2004).

An individual's response to drugs can get influenced by several factors, including environment, lifestyle, age, and the state of health. However, understanding a person's genetic makeup is believed to be the key to developing personalized medications with greater safety and efficacy. The manner in which individuals respond to drugs is a complex behavior that is affected by a broad range of genes (Grant, 2004).

Integration of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Genetics

Scientists have discovered that it is very difficult to develop genetic tests that can predict an individual’s response to a given medication without understanding the genes involved in drug response (Daly, 2003).

Pharmacogenetics integrates traditional pharmaceutical sciences like biochemistry with a detailed understanding of genes, single nucleotide polymorphisms, and proteins (Daly, 2003).

Addressing Adverse Drug Reactions

A study conducted in the year 1998 and published the American Medical Association Journal reported that adverse reactions to medication accounted for more than 100,000 deaths and over 2.2 million severe cases, making adverse drug reactions to be considered one of the leading causes of death and hospitalization in the United States (Grant, 2004).

Most of such deaths could have been avoided if the medical practitioners had prior understanding of the patients’ genetic makeup, which determines an individual’s response to drug. Pharmacogenetics is the solution needed in solving the problem of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) before they happen (Grant, 2004).

Implications of Pharmacogenetics in Drug Development and Prescription

With the introduction of pharmacogenetics, pharmaceutical companies will be in a position to create drugs based on the enzymes, proteins, and RNA molecules that relate to people’s genes and illnesses (Chung, 2017).

Besides, pharmacogenetics will encourage drug discovery and enable drug manufacturers to develop treatments that are more targeted to specific diseases. As a result, it will provide safety and accuracy it medication, which will, in turn, optimize therapeutic effects, as well as reduce related damages surrounding cells (Chung, 2017).

Moreover, with pharmacogenetics, physicians will be in apposition to analyze patients’ genetic profiles, as well as prescribe the best available medication from the start of treatment, as opposed to the standard trial-and-error technique of matching patients with drugs perceived to be the most appropriate (Chung, 2017).

Pharmacogenetics will, therefore, eliminate guesswork in determining the right drug for a patient, speed the patient's recovery time, as well as increase safety due to the possible elimination of adverse reactions (Chung, 2017).

Personalized Drug Dosages

Additionally, with the introduction of pharmacogenetics, the current techniques of basing drug dosages on age and weight will be substituted with dosages based on an individual's genetics. In other words, drug dosages will depend on how well a patient's body processes the drugs and the duration it takes to metabolize such medicines (Alhara, 2011).

That will maximize the value of treatment and reduce the chances of overdose among patients. Informing people of their genetic codes will allow them to have appropriate lifestyles at an early age, which is helpful in avoiding or reducing the severity of genetic illnesses. Similarly, advance knowledge of the susceptibility of certain diseases will allow for careful monitoring and introduction of treatments at the most appropriate stage to optimize therapy (Alhara, 2011).


In overall, pharmacogenetics is a potential tool that seeks to maximize the benefit of treatment. It marks a radical advancement in he medical industry with specific objectives relating to personalized therapy, reduction of adverse drug reactions, improvement of drug efficacy, linkage of genotype with clinical genotype, prediction of disease susceptibility and drug response, as well as the identification of targets for new drugs. Traditionally, most medications got designed to work on the population level, as opposed to patient specific. Pharmacogenetics has revised that trend by refining the focus of treatment and making drugs or medications less toxic and more effective.


AIHARA, M. (2011). Pharmacogenetics of cutaneous adverse drug reactions. The Journal of Dermatology, 38(3), 246-254.

Chung, W. (2017). Pharmacogenetics of drug-induced severe cutaneous adverse drug reactions. Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, 32(1), S16.

Daly, A., & King, B. (2003). Pharmacogenetics of oral anticoagulants. Pharmacogenetics, 13(5), 247-252.

Grant, D. (2004). Pharmacogenetics and the regulation of gene transcription. Pharmacogenetics, 14(7), 391-393.

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