Reducing adverse side effects of medication can be achieved when taking into account a patient's genetic make-up

Galicia introduces adapted medical treatments for mental health patients

Galicia introduces adapted medical treatments for mental health patients

This is based on the discipline of pharmacogenomics

Sergas, the Galician Health Service, has tasked the regional Foundation of Genomic Medicine with the development of a Plan for the implantation of pharmacogenomics in psychiatry and the order was published in the Official Gazette of Galicia on 21 June. The general objective of this initiative is to advance ‘personalized medicine’ in the northwestern Spanish region, which means adapting medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient.

The goal is to avoid adverse drug side effects and possible hospitalizations

Personalized medicine involves adapting medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. This implies the possibility of identifying patients who differ in their susceptibility to experiencing a certain disease, in the biology and/or prognosis of said disease, as well as in the response to the adverse effects that they experience after the administration of a certain treatment.

The concept departs from the recognition of the unique genetic make-up of each individual and the realization that better effects can be achieved in treatments if the one-size-fits-all approach is dropped from contemporary health care.

From the point of view of pharmacogenomics, there are already biomarkers that can be applied to predict an unexpected response to a drug in terms of adverse effects. Knowing a priori the patient's metabolizing genotype and, where appropriate, the kinetics of the drug, will allow the dose to be adjusted more quickly, avoiding adverse effects, as well as possible hospitalizations.

The project will be structured in two parts, one aimed at the adult population and the other at the child and youth patients. Its implementation will allow the prescription to be adapted to individual biomarkers, optimizing the efficiency of the drugs and guaranteeing the safety of the patients. 

Until now, the applications of personalized medicine techniques have mostly been carried out for cancer patients, but their application in the field of psychiatric care constitutes a clear commitment to improving mental health treatments as well.

The health authorities have argued that this shift would not only bring a direct benefit for patients and the system health in general, but it would also place Galicia at the forefront of innovation in this field.

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