Genomic prescribing has come of age. I wrote about this in Death by Modern Medicine. Dr. Allen Roses of GlaxoSmithKline announced in 2003 that this day would come. But my unanswered question remains. What’s the point of prescribing drugs for a condition that may be due to nutrient deficiency? But the old adage “When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.” Is pretty obvious here.
Dr. Roses, stunned the medical world on December 8, 2003 when he publicly stated that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them. Dr. Roses is an academic geneticist originally from Duke University. And he knew exactly what he was doing—heralding the ‘brave new world’ of genomics.
The reason that drugs work effectively, on average, in less than one half of patients, according to Dr. Roses, is because their genetic makeup interferes with the medicine in some unknown way. He is a pioneer of a new culture within the drugs business based on using genes to test for who can benefit from a particular drug. Roses is on a mission to promote his field of pharmacogenomics, which applies human genetics to drug development—identifying ‘responders,’ people who benefit from the drug—with a simple and cheap genetic test that can be used to eliminate those non responders who might benefit from another drug.
So, here we are 15 years later with the results of the largest-ever pharmacogenomics clinical study on depression. Patients with treatment-resistant depression were 30% more likely to respond to treatment and 50% more likely to achieve remission when their medication selection was guided by the psychotropic genetic test.
I don’t know what those percentages really mean. It sounds like half of the 30% that responded got better, which means only 15% of patients benefited from genetic testing for the “best” drug. Not a big win as far as I can see.
The spin about the testing sounds good. DNA samples are taken with cheek swabs, which are sent to a laboratory where they identify 12 genes and match them with 56 medications. Doctors think it helps them know where to start their drug treatment. But it’s still all about drugs, isn’t it. Instead of throwing in the towel about drugs not working and maybe trying some alternatives, they are playing the gene card and using the hype about gene testing to keep promoting drugs.
All the top ranking articles on the Web about drug gene testing are in favor of this new technology, which is exactly what we do in the West. We lay ourselves wide open to the latest and don’t realize it’s a bomb until 15-20 years later.
Again, I say it’s a bomb right this minute because it effectively closes the door on alternatives like magnesium saturation; avoidance of sugar, gluten, and dairy; high fat diet to support cell membranes; probiotics and yeast detox since 90% of our serotonin is produced in the gut; methylated B vitamins; and Vitamin C complex to name a few. All of these measures should be first-line treatments for depression before resorting to drugs.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®