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J Mol Med (Berl). 2004 Jan;82(1):21-30. Epub 2003 Nov 4.

Using pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: some ethical and economic considerations.

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Office of Public Policy and Ethics, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, 4072 St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia.


Current pharmacotherapies for psychiatric disorders are generally incompletely effective. Many patients do not respond well or suffer adverse reactions to these drugs, which can result in poor patient compliance and poor treatment outcome. Adverse drug reactions and non-response are likely to be influenced by genetic polymorphisms. Pharmacogenetics holds some promise for improving the treatment of mood disorders by utilising information about genetic polymorphisms to match patients to the drug therapy that is the most effective with the fewest side effects. Pharmacogenomics promises to facilitate the development of new drugs for treatment. However, these technologies raise many ethical, economic and regulatory issues that need to be addressed before they can be integrated into psychiatry, and medicine more generally. We discuss ethical and policy issues arising from pharmacogenetic testing and pharmacogenomics research, such as informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, research on vulnerable persons and discrimination; and economic viability of pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics. We conclude with recommendations for the regulation and distribution of pharmacogenetic testing services and pharmacogenomic drugs.

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