Assessing Clinical Utility of Pharmacogenetic Testing in the Military Health System

Lydia D. Hellwig, Clesson Turner, Cara Olsen, Joya Libbus, Bethelhem Markos, Tracey Koehlmoos, Mark Haigney, Mauricio De Castro, David Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Response to medications can differ widely among individual patients. Adverse drug reactions can lead to serious morbidity and mortality. Pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing can predict responses to medications and increased risks of adverse events where the genetic basis is understood. Several published manuscripts suggest positive impacts of systematic preemptive PGx testing. However, few studies have been conducted on PGx implementation in the Military Health System (MHS). Material and Methods: A cross-sectional study of adult beneficiaries in a primary care clinic at a large military treatment facility was conducted in 2022. Participants underwent PGx genotyping of CYP2C19 and CYP2D6 genes at the Defense Health Agency Genetics Reference Laboratory. Participant medication lists were compared to the current Clinical Pharmacogenetic Implementation Consortium (CPIC) PGx gene–drug guidelines to assess potential actionability of these results. Results: Genotyping of CYP2C19 and CYP2D6 in 165 MHS beneficiaries (mean age: 65 years) revealed that 81.2% of participants had at least one abnormal PGx finding. Among those with an abnormal PGx result, 65% were taking a medication listed on the CPIC website with an association with the particular gene in which the finding was identified. In addition, 78% of all of the participants in the study were taking at least one medication that is metabolized by CYP2C19 or CYP2D6 with associated CPIC guidelines. Conclusions: Pharmacogenetic testing for CYP2C19 and CYP2D6 identified a substantial proportion of MHS patients at a single center who could benefit from evaluation of current medication regimens based on the CPIC guidelines. Individualized medical management may be warranted to a greater degree than previously recognized based on the findings given possible differences in medication metabolism. Many MHS beneficiaries already take medications metabolized by CYP2C19 and CYP2D6, and a substantial proportion may be at risk for preventable adverse events for medications metabolized by these enzymes. While preliminary, a large number of actionable polymorphisms among a relatively small set of individuals taking at-risk medications suggest that implementing PGx testing in clinical practice may be beneficial in the MHS with appropriate clinical infrastructure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E198-E204
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


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