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Pharmacogenetics: implications for drug development, patients and society

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Clinical diagnosis and prescribing is a highly sophisticated art, requiring many years of training. Despite this, the response of individual patients to medicines (where efficacy and safety have been proven in large clinical studies) can still be somewhat variable. Knowledge of the likely response of an individual patient to a medicine will enable physicians to select the most effective and well-tolerated treatment for that patient. Pharmacogenetics is the use of genetic science and technology to provide new insights on the likely response to a particular medicine. (This contrasts with the more conventional use of genetics to elicit information about diseases.) Pharmacogenetic medicine response profiles could take the form of either gene-specific profiles, which will determine the gene variants that affect the mode of action and the metabolism of the medicine, or abbreviated single nucleotide polymorphism profiles, which are correlated with medicine-related phenotypes. In general, pharmacogenetic medicine response profiles will be unlikely to provide additional information about the patient's disease or predict any other diseases. The ethical, legal and social issues associated with medicine response profiles are clearly of a quite different magnitude from those associated with the gene-specific tests for disease.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Glaxo Wellcome Research and Development, Greenford Road, Greenford, Middlesex UB6 0HE, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2000

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