Forgeng: Comprehensive Information on Pharmacogenomics Needed

By Purnell T. Cropper | October 22, 2010

“Last year 353,318 people in the United States alone suffered from adverse drug reactions, of which 106,000 were fatal. Pharmacogenomics utilizes personal genetic information so that medication selection and dosage can be optimized to decrease toxicity and thereby increase treatment efficacy. As medical professionals begin to utilize pharmacogenomic information with increasing frequency, the need for public awareness and education will increase,” according to a poster presentation abstract by Courtney Forgeng, Arcadia University Genetic Counseling student, at the National Society of GeneticCounselors’ (NSGC). Assessing Genetic Counseling Students’ Knowledge of and Attitudes Toward Pharmacogenomics was authored by C. Forgeng1, T. Schmidlen2, L. Conway1. (1Arcadia University, 2Coriell Institute for Medical Research).

“Genetic counselors are plausible facilitators within this process as they are adept in explaining complex and abstract genetic concepts. To determine whether genetic counseling students understand pharmacogenomics and feel prepared to participate in this area, an online survey was sent to genetic counseling programs across the United States. Of approximately 450 eligible students, 111 participated in this study (response rate of 25%). The survey assessed knowledge and opinions of pharmacogenomics. The average knowledge score was 5.45 (SD=1.92) out of 10, suggesting that genetic counseling students might benefit from more education regarding pharmacogenomics and its current use in medical practice.

“Respondents were most likely to give an incorrect answer or respond ‘don’t know’ when asked about the availability of genetic testing for drug response for particular conditions such as psychiatric medications (70.3%, n=78) or medications used to treat alcohol addiction (67.6%, n=75), or nicotine addiction (80.4%, n=89). The only specific condition for which the majority of respondents answered correctly was for chemotherapeutic drugs (65.8%, n=73). When asked their opinion of how well their training program explained pharmacogenomics, most described it as efficient or somewhat efficient, although 28% responded poor or very poor (n=31). 77% of students (n=88) responded that discussing genetic testing for drug response would likely or most definitely be part of their responsibilities in their future career. These data suggest that genetic counseling programs should consider integrating detailed and comprehensive pharmacogenomic lectures into their curricula.”