Using DNA testing to determine how well a given depression medication will work with a patient’s genetic makeup is becoming a popular approach. More than 750,000 people have taken one such test, called GeneSight, which is made by personalized medicine company Assurex, according to its website. A network of 28 Albertsons pharmacies offers a similar test made by a company called Genomind as part of a pilot program. And just last month, Silicon Valley genetics testing startup Color Genomics began offering a test as part of its $250 kits.
But some scientists say the tests have limited utility.
That’s because they [don’t] tell providers which specific medication is best to prescribe patients, according to Alan Schatzberg, a Stanford University psychiatrist and the director of the Stanford Mood Disorders Center. And Cristina Cusin, a Harvard psychiatrist, said the test won’t give helpful results to patients who take more than one medication.
[27-year-old Allyson Byers] said taking a genetic test saved her time in the quest to find the right medication.
[The test] suggested another medication called Pristiq that Byers had not previously taken, she said. So Byers’ therapist suggested they try that instead of Zoloft. Several weeks later, Byers said she felt better — and thanked the test for helping her find a different medication.