Making Prescriptions Safer for You

blood samples in test tubes

What if a simple blood test could help your doctor predict whether you will experience severe, even life-threatening, side effects from a medication?  Or that the same blood test could help your doctor decide what dosage would be best to use initially? Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Personalized Healthcare is working to make it easier for doctors to order this type of pharmacogenetic testing. This new initiative, called the Personalized Medication Program, helps ensure safer, more efficient, cost-effective care.

What is pharmacogenetics?

Pharmacogenetics is the study of how a person’s genetic makeup can affect his or her response to drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes pharmacogenetic testing is critical for certain medications before a doctor can safely prescribe them to patients. These medications carry a strong warning called a “boxed warning.”

Cleveland Clinic doctors currently consider pharmacogenetic testing for any medication that carries this warning. If you take one of these medications, you can be sure that your doctor is aware that testing is important for your care.

The Personalized Medication Program improves this process by flagging these medications for your doctor and alerting him or her of any previous pharmacogenetic testing.

Right now, there are two medications in the program, with plans to add more in the future.

How does the Personalized Medication Program work?

So what happens if your doctor feels you need a medication in the program? Here’s what you can expect during your visit:

  • As your doctor is viewing your electronic medical record and ordering the prescription, an alert appears on the screen reminding your doctor that pharmacogenetic testing is recommended before prescribing this medication.
  • If you have not been tested yet, the program will help your doctor order the test.
  • If you have already been tested, the program will show your doctor your test results, which will prevent you from having to be tested again.

The results of your pharmacogenetic testing will help your doctor decide if the medication is safe for you to take. For some medications, pharmacogenetic test results will determine which dose will be best for you. In these cases, the Personalized Medication Program will help your doctor decide what dosage you should use to begin treatment.

All of this adds up to safer, more efficient, and cost-effective care for you.    


Kathryn Teng, MD

Kathryn Teng, MD, is Director of the Center for Personalized Healthcare and leads Cleveland Clinic’s efforts to integrate personalized healthcare into standard practice.
  • Jeffrey A Crawford

    I’m 46, overweight, snore like a buzz saw and am sure I have some apnea. However, I sleep like a rock, rarely have any difficulty getting to or staying asleep, and wake rested, usually without an alarm. Why should I be concerned?

  • finkette61

    So can we get assistance for those of us that don’t have the “normal” sleep issues? How about us on the other end of the spectrum? I’m a night owl and can sleep for 10 -12 hours on the weekend. Problem is I have to work the normal 8-5 during the day . Ugh! Going to bed @ 2:00 am every night and able (NEEDING) to sleep for hours on end is not good. Been this way all my life. Other than being able to retire and sleep all day, what is my answer?

  • Carlene Byron

    People get shamed BY their doctors. How many other people have been treated as if we are mental incompetents when another doctor sees our list of psych meds? I actually had an orthopedist PANTOMIME his explanation of why my sister’s doctor was wrong about a health syndrome that runs in our family.

  • Carlene Byron

    Also: TBIs don’t increase your risk of getting mental illnesses. It’s more accurate to say that the symptoms of TBIs are like the symptoms of BP and there’s much more money available to treat BP than TBIs. But if you treat a TBI with BP meds, you can turn a competent professional into a drooler. I’ve seen it happen. I’d like to see the funding stream shift so TBIs can get proper treatment.