Personalised medicine is not a new idea, however, increasing developments in using genetic and genomic data are creating new ways to tailor patient care to the individual.
In response to these developments, we have commissioned two projects to further the use of genetics and genomics in primary care. The projects will focus on pharmacogenetics, the science of understanding and predicting how an individual is likely to respond to different types of medicine based on their genome.
Why is this important?
Pharmaceutical waste and adverse reactions to medication are significant problems for the NHS. Recent figures suggest that ineffective drugs and adverse drug reactions cost the NHS an average of £5.5m per week In fact, one in fifteen hospital admissions are caused by an adverse reaction to prescribed medication.
Pharmacogenetics combines pharmacology and genomics to develop medication specific to an individual’s genetic make-up. Prescribing using pharmacogenetic data will provide greater opportunities to improve patient outcomes while helping to reduce pharmaceutical wastage and ensure maximum value from the NHS annual drug spend.
About the projects
We invited interested parties to bid for funds of up to £75,000 each to develop genetic and/or genomic testing in primary care projects. The applications were assessed by an expert panel made up of clinical, research and training experts in genomics and genetics, and two successful pharmacogenetics projects were selected for support.
Project 1 – Pharmacogenetic testing in primary care to enable better prescribing
Led by Dr Alina Roser, a Huntingdon-based GP who specialises in genomic medicine, this project will focus on key areas where better prescribing can have a big impact, in particular, named antidepressants, and cardiac drugs. The project will span 10 practices in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough areas and create awareness across all 530 GP practices in the east of England. It is initially expected to impact approximately 200 patients, reducing the number of visits they need to make to the clinic to adjust their medication, reducing adverse drug effects and improving adherence to medicines, while also reducing medication waste.
Project 2 – Asthma improvement by genetic testing in children
In north east Essex, we will be supporting the Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver genomic testing for asthmatic children over four years old who are not responding well to standard treatment. The project aims to identify those who have a variant of the Beta-2 receptor gene which means that treatment elicits less response, or may even worsen symptoms. The project is expected to reach 4,000 children across Suffolk and north east Essex. It is hoped that changing the treatment in those, found with the variant gene, will lead to improved asthma control, fewer days off school, fewer asthma exacerbations and hospital visits, and an improved asthma symptoms score.
Watch this space
Supported by an advisory panel of national and international pharmacogenetic experts and the Eastern AHSN Transformation Support Unit (TSU), the local project teams are developing implementation plans and are expected to go live from April 2018.
Please feel free to contact the Eastern AHSN Project lead, Denise Mortimer, if you would like further information: Denise.Mortimer@eahsn.org.