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Five reasons your medication might not be working

Medication

Viewing posts from the Medication category

Five reasons your medication might not be working

Reason 1: You eat a lot of green leafy vegetables

It is a surprising and little known fact that eating vegetables can affect how your body processes certain medications. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale are all part of a group called cruciferous vegetables, which are an important part of a healthy diet. Whilst these vegetables are a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, eating them may also affect how you process some medications.

The reason for this is that cruciferous vegetables can affect the activity of the CYP1A2 enzyme. This same enzyme processes medication, in particular some mental health medications.
At least 50% of the population have a change in their genetic profile that means that if they consume a lot of cruciferous vegetables they are likely to produce a lot more of that enzyme. For those people, a drug processed by CYP1A2 would clear faster in their body and as a result its effect might be reduced.

A myDNA test can identify if you have this genetic profile.

If you are taking medication, it may be a good idea to keep your cruciferous vegetable consumption at a regular stable level. That means no dramatic changes, such as following the ‘cabbage diet’ for a fortnight.

Reason 2: You don’t take your medications as advised

An unfortunate reality is that many people don’t take their medications according to the recommended advice. For example, some people who are on anti-depressants or anti-psychotics may decide to hold off if they have a good day, and then find their mood is unstable on subsequent days or they suffer unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Other people might prefer to not take their medication as recommended if it’s not working effectively, or if they are experiencing side effects. If this is your experience, you should discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist to see if they can help resolve this for you.

The best outcomes will be for those people who do adhere to the medications as prescribed.

If you are unsure about your medications, a Home Medications Review might be a good idea. A myDNA test may also help to reveal the most appropriate medication and dose for you.

Reason 3: You have an erratic smoking habit

It’s no secret that smoking is unhealthy and stopping smoking is a good idea. But, if you have been prescribed anti-psychotics in particular, it is important that you let your doctor know what you plan to do.

The reason for this is that smoking can have an impact on the CYP1A2 enzyme, and in turn how you process some medications. A regular smoker is likely to have had their medications fine-tuned by their doctor, taking into account the effect of their cigarette consumption.

If you are on antipsychotics and plan to stop smoking, you should consult your prescribing doctor to ensure that your medications can be tweaked if necessary to ensure you can maintain a level of continuity during that process.

Reason 4: Your medication schedule doesn’t match your lifestyle

If the schedule that has been recommended doesn’t fit with your lifestyle, it can be hard to remember to take your medication at the allotted time. If you need to take multiple medications it can be hard to keep track of which medications you’ve taken on a particular day.

There are various weekly dose administration aids, you can either fill yourself or speak to your local pharmacy and they can usually organise a dosage aid for you.

Reason 5: You mix alcohol and medication

If you find it hard not to have a glass of wine each day, perhaps you ought to understand the depressant qualities of alcohol. Alcohol can make you drowsy, as can certain medications such as sleeping tablets, some pain killers and antidepressants. As a result, combining the two is not recommended.

Similarly, if you are taking a medication for diarrhea or for nausea and vomiting, alcohol may exacerbate the problem.

Drinking even small amounts of alcohol with particular medications, including some (but not all) antibiotics, can lead to a severe and unpleasant reaction. So if your health professional has advised you not to drink when on a course of medication it is best to follow their advice. If you are unsure if its safe to drink you should check with your health professional.
If you drink regularly and in excessive amounts, over time alcohol can have an effect on the liver, which metabolises many medications.

If you are concerned about your alcohol use in general contact DirectLine.

For more information on how to be wise with your medicines visit NPS Medicinewise.

Treating depression with the right medication – first time

Grief is the most natural human response to loss, and each individual’s experience with it is unique. Therefore, it is no surprise the way in which we respond to it is unique also.

For many, overcoming loss is a healing process that can be met with time, yet for others it is more complex, has no set pattern and in certain circumstances can lead to depression.

Today, more than 3 million Australians are living with depression or anxiety1, with more than 8% of the entire population managing their mental health with medication. Yet of this group, only 50% of people respond to their first antidepressant treatment.  This is because no one, not even doctors, know exactly how an individual will respond to medications in this class, therefore prescribing is based on trial and error.

But if everyone’s response to grief is unique, then why isn’t the medication being prescribed also unique?

Knowing that your first dose of depression medication could be the wrong one, or rather not knowing until it fails to work, can be timely, expensive and leave a patient feeling helpless and frustrated. And in some instances it can also lead to side effects including nausea, headaches, anxiety and dizziness2. While the side effects associated with antidepressants are usually mild, in some circumstances they can be severe, and add to a person’s emotional turmoil.

New science shows that the answer to why an antidepressant will work for one person but not another lies within our DNA; information that can mean the right medication and right dosage, first-time.

The myDNA multi-gene test is simple and cost-effective, identifying the genetic variants affecting an individual’s response to specific medications. Simply put, it recognises that you are an individual and as such identifies which medications are right for you.

Although the test is best before you start taking medication, it can also assist your doctor to tailor your current dosage. And while medication won’t cure depression, managing the symptoms early and well can make a world of difference, and important to consider this World Health Day

If you or are a loved one need assistance with depression, please visit www.beyondblue.org.au

To find out more about myDNA testing and how it can assist you, visit: www.mydna.life

 

References

  1. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
  2. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/treatments-for-depression/medical-treatments-for-depression

Easing the burden on mental health patients

As more and more Australians are using antidepressants, or medications associated with mental illness, the time is right for a re-think on the approach to treatment of these conditions.

Eighty-nine Australians in every 1,000 are now prescribed some form of daily anti-depressant, but 10 years ago the rate was closer to 45 – near enough to a 100 percent increase, and more than enough cause for concern.

While the causes of this increase are numerous, and the centre of many debates that don’t provide concrete resolutions about how to tackle the problem, one problem we can address is the lack of precision in depression treatment.

On average, statistics show that only 50 per cent of patients respond to their first anti-depressant treatment, making an already sensitive process difficult and time consuming.

There is also a degree of subjectivity that goes into mental health treatment, unlike many other medical areas that generally provide an accepted guideline for diagnosis and treatment that varies little from patient to patient.

Add to that the fact that adjusting to new medication can take 3-4 weeks, patient’s wellbeing can be seriously compromised.

In essence, these factors mean that by its very nature, depression treatment can be “trial and error”. That is not to say for a moment that doctors are at fault here – let me be abundantly clear that this is not the case, nor is it inferred – it is simply the status quo.

Indeed, doctors do the very best they can with the information they have. But given the complexities associated with mental illness, and the variations in patients, prescribing is at best hit and miss.

In light of this, myDNA has recently launched the “Peace of Mind” campaign – a program run in conjunction with our pharmacy partners, designed to raise awareness of the possibilities for pharmacogenomic testing in treating depression.

myDNA is a multigene pharmacogenomic test that identifies variations in a number of genes affecting the metabolism of many commonly prescribed anti-depressants.

According to Kos Sclavos, the immediate Past National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, pharmacogenomics is the gateway to “personalised medicine”.

He says that “this kind of paradigm shift represents the next generation of healthcare, and technology has enabled pharmacies to be at the forefront of the new frontier”.

In that sense, myDNA places the pharmacy as a key player in the improvement of the lives of people suffering from mental illness, and given the prevalence of it in the general population , such a role has never been so important.

Analysis of 4750 patients who took a myDNA test showed that 6 in 10 people had a finding relevant to their ability to process anti-depressants.

That figure alone is enough to demonstrate the potential for pharmacogenomic testing to dramatically change the treatment landscape for mental illness.

Getting medication and dosage right at the initial prescription unquestionably helps the well-being of the patient, but will also save time and cost – for the physician, the patient, and potentially even the health care system.

Around 80 per cent of common anti-depressants are metabolised by specific CYP450 enzymes that are covered by myDNA’s capability for multigene testing, along with a number of common antipsychotic medications.

To this point, around 12 000 myDNA testing kits have been ordered by Australian physicians, however I’m confident that broader adoption of proactive pharmacogenomic testing is only a matter of time. It’s not if, but when.

I appreciate that pharmacogenomic testing moving into medical practice represents a big shift to accepted practice, and a challenge to conservative treatment. But the opportunity is there for pharmacies to lead off the next generation of healthcare – by delivering a new level of personal information, and thus redefining the patient-doctor relationship.

It’s a chance set new guidelines and break new ground here in Australia.

Certainly, in the United States, authorities are embracing the concept, and it is gradually becoming mainstream – the Department of Veterans Affairs for one already cover the test for patients who fail their first treatment.

The Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC) and other international bodies have published guidelines for 67 different drugs including many anti-depressants, while the US Food and Drug Administration provide a list of over 150 labels that carry warnings based on pharmacogenomics biomarkers.

5 reasons your medication might not be working

Reason 1: You eat a lot of green leafy vegetables

It is a surprising and little known fact that eating vegetables can affect how your body processes certain medications. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale are all part of a group called cruciferous vegetables, which are an important part of a healthy diet. Whilst these vegetables are a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, eating them may also affect how you process some medications.

The reason for this is that cruciferous vegetables can affect the activity of the CYP1A2 enzyme. This same enzyme processes medication, in particular some mental health medications.

At least 50% of the population have a change in their genetic profile that means that if they consume a lot of cruciferous vegetables they are likely to produce a lot more of that enzyme. For those people, a drug processed by CYP1A2 would clear faster in their body and as a result its effect might be reduced.

A myDNA test can identify if you have this genetic profile.

If you are taking medication, it may be a good idea to keep your cruciferous vegetable consumption at a regular stable level. That means no dramatic changes, such as following the ‘cabbage diet’ for a fortnight.

Reason 2: You don’t take your medications as advised

An unfortunate reality is that many people don’t take their medications according to the recommended advice. For example, some people who are on anti-depressants or anti-psychotics may decide to hold off if they have a good day, and then find their mood is unstable on subsequent days or they suffer unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Other people might prefer to not take their medication as recommended if it’s not working effectively, or if they are experiencing side effects. If this is your experience, you should discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist to see if they can help resolve this for you.

The best outcomes will be for those people who do adhere to the medications as prescribed.

If you are unsure about your medications, a Home Medications Review might be a good idea.  A myDNA test may also help to reveal the most appropriate medication and dose for you.

Reason 3: You have an erratic smoking habit

It’s no secret that smoking is unhealthy and stopping smoking is a good idea. But, if you have been prescribed anti-psychotics in particular, it is important that you let your doctor know what you plan to do.

The reason for this is that smoking can have an impact on the CYP1A2 enzyme, and in turn how you process some medications. A regular smoker is likely to have had their medications fine-tuned by their doctor, taking into account the effect of their cigarette consumption.

If you are on antipsychotics and plan to stop smoking, you should consult your prescribing doctor to ensure that your medications can be tweaked if necessary to ensure you can maintain a level of continuity during that process.

Reason 4: Your medication schedule doesn’t match your lifestyle

If the schedule that has been recommended doesn’t fit with your lifestyle, it can be hard to remember to take your medication at the allotted time. If you need to take multiple medications it can be hard to keep track of which medications you’ve taken on a particular day.

There are various weekly dose administration aids, you can either fill yourself or speak to your local pharmacy and they can usually organise a dosage aid for you.

Reason 5: You mix alcohol and medication

If you find it hard not to have a glass of wine each day, perhaps you ought to understand the depressant qualities of alcohol. Alcohol can make you drowsy, as can certain medications such as sleeping tablets, some pain killers and antidepressants. As a result, combining the two is not recommended.

Similarly, if you are taking a medication for diarrhea or for nausea and vomiting, alcohol may exacerbate the problem.

Drinking even small amounts of alcohol with particular medications, including some (but not all) antibiotics, can lead to a severe and unpleasant reaction. So if your health professional has advised you not to drink when on a course of medication it is best to follow their advice. If you are unsure if its safe to drink you should check with your health professional.

If you drink regularly and in excessive amounts, over time alcohol can have an effect on the liver, which metabolises many medications.

If you are concerned about your alcohol use in general contact DirectLine

For more information on how to be wise with your medicines visit NPS Medicinewise

Warnings against codeine use in children

About codeine

Codeine is a commonly used medication in Australia. It has generally been considered to be safe. Codeine is part of a group known as opioid painkillers, which have quadrupled in use in Australia in the last decade.

Codeine is a painkiller that is used to treat mild to moderate types of pain. It can be particularly useful when painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen have not been effective. It is an active ingredient in well-known brands such as Nurofen Plus, Panadeine Plus and Pain Stop.

In October 2015, following a review, the TGA recommended against codeine use in children and breastfeeding mothers.

When is codeine usually given to children?

Previously, codeine has been commonly prescribed for children after they have had surgery to have their tonsils or adenoids removed. It was also prescribed for  sleep apnoea. This is no longer recommended.

Overseas deaths related to codeine

Cases of breathing difficulties and death following the use of codeine in children after surgery have been reported in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that many of the cases of serious adverse events relating to codeine use occurred in children with existing sleep problems such as sleep apnoea. This was because these children were ultra-rapid metabolisers of codeine and converted codeine into the string sedative morphine much too fast. Too much morphine causes breathing difficulties. These difficulties can make breathing harder and sometimes lead to serious problems, even death.

No deaths related to codeine use have been reported in Australia, however deaths in other countries have resulted in restrictions being introduced in the US, Europe and Canada.

The deaths, whilst relatively rare, have occurred when children were given the standard dose.

Why is codeine dangerous for children?

In the body, codeine is metabolised into the active ingredient morphine. Some people have a genetic metabolism that can be described as ‘ultra-rapid’. In their bodies this process happens too fast and they have an increased risk of accidental morphine overdose, even when taking the standard dose.

If a child is experiencing a morphine overdose their breathing may be restricted. Children are at greater risk because their airways are smaller. As a result, codeine is particularly dangerous if the person is an ultrarapid metaboliser of codeine if used to treat sleep apnoea or after a procedure that affects the airways (such as removal of tonsils or adenoids).

What proportion of people are ultra-rapid metabolisers?

From two to ten in every 100 people are ‘ultra-rapid metabolisers’ but they are more common among some ethnic groups. For example, 29% of North Africans 10% of Middle Eastern people, whilst 3% of Caucasian in Australia are affected.

Genetic testing

The results of a genetic test can reveal how your child metabolises medication.

A test that includes analysis of the function of the enzyme CYP2D6 will demonstrate how codeine is processed in the body. If a person is found to be an ultrarapid metaboliser they need to avoid codeine or be very careful to take lower doses. They should discuss this with their doctor. Having a myDNA medication test  can inform people if they can take codeine or not.

What if I feel that codeine is the only option for my child?

Speak to your child’s health care professional if you have any questions or concerns about codeine. Make sure they have had the myDNA medication test to help the Healthcare professional advise you if the lowest effective dose is suitable or another drug is available.

Signs of danger

If you have given your child codeine and you are concerned about their breathing or they are more sleepy than usual, please consult your doctor as soon as possible.

What are the new Australian guidelines for codeine use in children?
  • Codeine is not recommended for any children under age 12 [Unless they have had their genetic profile established by a myDNA test].
  • Codeine should not be used for children aged 12 – 18 after surgery for removal of adenoids or tonsils or for obstructive sleep apnoea.
  • Paracetamol, then ibuprofen should be used first and if that does not work morphine can be administered.
  • Breast feeding mothers should be warned against using codeine if they are known to be an ‘ultra-rapid metaboliser’.
  • Health professionals, patients and caregivers should be educated about the possibility of ultra-rapid metabolism related morphine overdose and the signs of it, including breathing difficulties.

 

 

The growth of precision medicine

Precision medicine is a field of medicine that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, family history, and lifestyles to make diagnostic and therapeutic strategies precisely tailored to individual patients.

Today, most medical treatments are designed for the average patient using the “one-size-fits-all” approach. However, in many cases, this approach isn’t effective because treatments can be very successful for some patients but not for others.

A growing number of researchers, healthcare clinicians, and patients are calling for a more personalised approach aimed as much at preventing disease as it is at tailoring treatment once it’s there.

Precision medicine gives clinicians tools to better understand the complex mechanisms underlying a patient’s health, disease, or condition, and to better predict which treatments will be most effective.

One size fits all

Every day, millions of people are taking medications that may not help them.

The top ten highest grossing drugs in the United States help between 1 in 25 and 1 in 4 of the people who take them. For some drugs, such as statins — routinely used to lower cholesterol — as few as 1 in 50 may benefit.

Image Source: www.nature.com

International investment in precision medicine

Recognition that physicians need to take individual variability into account is driving huge interest in ‘precision’ medicine. In January 2016, US President Barack Obama announced a US$215-million national Precision Medicine Initiative.

This includes, among other things, the establishment of a national database of the genetic and other data of one million people in the United States.

On March 11, 2015, it was reported that China is planning to invest 60 billion Yuan (nearly US $10 billion) in precision medicine before 2030.

Patient-centred medicine

Many doctors will tell you they’ve been doing personalised, patient-centred medicine all along, and they do have a point, as doctors have always customised treatment to the best of their ability.

But the definition preferred by the National Human Genome Research Institute is more specific, maintaining that a personalised approach to medicine includes an “individual’s genetic profile to guide decisions made in regard to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease.” Reaching that goal has been more than 20 years in the making, birthed from an ambitious plan to sequence the first reference human genome. By 2003, scientists had done it; for the first time, they had an essentially complete sequence and map of all the genes in the human body.

By sequencing individual genomes, researchers can uncover large amounts of information concerning all aspects of that individual’s physiology, from their susceptibility to certain diseases to the way they respond to specific medications.

Advances in precision medicine have already led to powerful new discoveries and several new treatments that are tailored to specific characteristics of individuals, such as a person’s genetic makeup, or the genetic profile of an individual’s tumour. This is leading to a transformation in the way we can treat diseases such as cancer. Patients with breast, lung, and colorectal cancers, as well as melanomas and leukaemia, for instance, routinely undergo molecular testing as part of patient care, enabling physicians to select treatments that improve chances of survival and reduce exposure to adverse effects.

The potential for precision medicine to improve care and speed the development of new treatments has only just begun to be tapped.

References

  1. Genome Mag: What is personalised medicine?
  2. Your Genome: Personal genomics the future of healthcare
  3. The Whitehouse: President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative
  4. Omics Online Personalised medicine and big data concepts and relationships
  5. Nature: Personalised medicine – time for one person trials
  6. New Yorker: Problems with precision medicine

Why mental illness runs in families

Your parents and mental health

If someone in your family has a mental illness you might be worried that you are at risk of developing one too. It does seem that mental illness can be passed on in families through genes. However, we do not fully understand how this works. Mental illness may be passed on in family members for reasons other than just genes.

The nature vs. nurture debate revolves around the following question: what factors impact the mental development of an individual: nature (that is, the genetic makeup of a person) or nurture (that is, how a person is raised, and in what environment)?

Just as human beings inherit certain physical traits from their biological parents (such as height, eye colour, and even predisposition to physical ailments), human beings can also inherit a propensity for certain mental disorders.

Many studies in the nature versus nurture conflict centre on identical twins. Researchers look not only at twins raised together but those raised apart to determine whether or not a certain trait is biologically programmed or if it evolves as a result of the environment in which one twin was raised.

Most researchers now agree to some extent that both biology and environment play important roles in shaping people. Just as children may share traits with biological parents, adopted children may also share many traits and habits with their adoptive parents.

How nature affects mental health

While nature, or genetics, has been proven to be an important factor in the development of some mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, bipolar, and major depression, the development of mental illness is not entirely genetic. Nature, or genetics, has been proven to be an important factor in the development of some mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, bipolar, and major depression: Bipolar, for example, is four to six times more likely to develop when there is a family history of the condition.

However, although the importance of genetic factors cannot be denied, the development of mental illness is not entirely genetic. Take identical twins, for example: They share genes, yet if one twin develops schizophrenia, the other twin only has a 50% chance of also developing the condition. This shows that nature, while it plays an important part, is not the only contributing factor.

How nurture affects mental health

Certain genetic factors may create a predisposition for a particular illness, but the probability that a person develops that illness depends in part on environment. When a genetic variant indicates the possibility of development of a mental illness, this information can be used to direct positive (nurturing) behaviour in such a way that the condition may not develop or may develop with less severity.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool recently found that while a family history of mental health conditions was the second strongest predictor of mental illness, the strongest predictor was in fact life events and experiences, such as childhood bullying, abuse, or other trauma, supporting the idea of nurture’s significant role in the development of mental health issues.

Nature x nurture

Many scientists reject the debate by emphasizing “nature x nurture.” In this formula we say nature and nurture are inseparable. Some genes, for example, cannot be activated without certain environmental inputs. The development of vision is a prime example of this. People cannot develop normal sight without exposure to visual stimuli. Similarly, some environmental inputs may be undermined by some genes. For example, some lifelong smokers may never experience smoking-related illnesses, and this may be due at least in part to their genes.

References

GoodTherapy.org: Nature vs. Nurture Debate

Other sources:

  1. Agin, D. P. (2010). More than genes: What science can tell us about toxic chemicals, development, and the risk to our children. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. DualDagnosis.org: Alcoholism Nature vs. Nurture
  3. ADAMHS: Facts about Bipolar Disorder
  4. Everyday Health: Mental Illness May Be In Your Genes
  5. Live Science: Twins Separated at Birth Reveal Staggering Influence of Genetics 
  6. Moore, D. S. (2003). The dependent gene: The fallacy of nature vs. nurture. New York, NY: Henry Holt.
  7. Decoded Science: Nurture Over Nature: Mental Illness and Traumatic Life Events

DNA test gives Holloways Beach’s Lee Golding a new lease of life

A Holloways Beach man is urging Far North residents to take up a revolutionary DNA test which granted him a new lease on life after a decade of chronic back pain.

Lee Goldring was 38 when a work accident left him with three protruding discs in his lower back, only able to sleep about three hours a night for a decade and often confined to his house for days.

Lee Goldring underwent a new DNA test, which discovered the medications he was taking to treat years of chronic pain were actually doing him harm Lee Goldring underwent a new DNA test, which discovered the medications he was taking to treat years of chronic pain were actually doing him harm. Picture: VERONICA AGREDO

“I was taking up to 12 high-dose painkillers a day, and sometimes 10 sleeping tablets a night, all with almost no effect,” he said.

After years of regular visits to the osteopath and weekly doctor visits with no long-term relief in sight, Mr Goldring began believing he was destined to be housebound.

But in May this year, his doctor, Dr Cameron McLeod, suggested the DNAdose Gene Test, a special blood test which produces a “pharmacogenomic profile”.

Six weeks later, the test results showed faults in several enzymes in Mr Goldring’s body, revealing he wasn’t metabolising the medications he was taking fast enough.

As suggested by the test, he shifted to taking just three painkillers mixed with anti-inflammatories only three times weekly, and he is now getting six hours sleep a night.

He is also saving “thousands” on doctors bills and medications after reducing his visits to every third month and no longer buying 30 painkiller tablets a week.

“My quality of life is about 20 times better than it was 12 months ago,” he said.

“That test was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

As seen on News.com.au 

Simple genes test may cut overdose toll

A Melbourne geneticist has developed a test that can show if a patient is metabolising prescription drugs too slowly or too quickly. He says it could help reduce overdose deaths.

Associate Professor Les Sheffield said variations in particular genes were vital in determining how well a person processed medications but little testing was being done in Australia, prompting him to start such a service.

He developed myDNA to identify variations in four major liver enzyme systems that determine how quickly people process about half of commonly prescribed medications.

Patients provide a cheek cell sample using a swab and their test results are analysed by a pathology laboratory. A geneticist reports on whether the function of four key enzymes is reduced, normal or heightened.

The report details the medications processed by each enzyme, which include drugs for depression, anxiety and pain relief and blood-thinners.

It also makes recommendations – for example, if the function of an enzyme that processes codeine is reduced it is likely to provide limited pain relief and pose an increased risk of side effects, so an alternative is advised.

About 4500 patients have taken the $195 test since Professor Sheffield began offering it in 2010 through his company GenesFX Health.

Professor Sheffield said that being armed with knowledge about how well bodies processed medicines was important.

Nearly everyone was estimated to have an abnormal function in at least one of the relevant enzymes. Drug levels could build up in the blood of people who processed medications too slowly, placing them at risk of side effects, and people who processed drugs too quickly received little or no benefit from some medications, including anti-depressants.

Pamela Carmichael benefited from the myDNA test after experiencing serious side effects of various medications including antidepressants for decades.

”Doctors thought I was making it up,” she said.

”They can spend years trying to get the right drug and dose.”

Coroners Court figures show that prescription drugs contributed to the deaths of 304 Victorians last year, exceeding the state’s road toll of 282.

”If doctors and patients knew about how we metabolise drugs then maybe we could reduce the number of deaths,” Professor Sheffield said.

”You could also save a lot of money for the health system, because 7 per cent of all admissions to hospital are due to adverse drug effects.”

He said deaths had been reported in children who were ”ultra-rapid” metabolisers of codeine, which was converted to morphine in the body. Babies could also be poisoned by morphine in breast milk if their mother was an ultra-rapid metaboliser of codeine.

In addition to the myDNA test, Professor Sheffield is also conducting a number of clinical trials with major public hospitals in Melbourne to evaluate how gene testing can improve patient outcomes.

As seen in The Sydney Morning Herald