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What role could pharmacies play in pharmacogenomic testing rollout?

NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) is currently working out how to introduce pharmacogenomic (PGx) testing across the NHS, with the potential for community pharmacies to play a crucial part in the service, C+D understands.

While NHSE&I is still working out the details of how it could start offering a PGx testing service, it is not excluding the possibility that pharmacists could be involved, a NHSE&I spokesperson told C+D yesterday (August 24). Community pharmacies could potentially play a key role in this in the future, they said.

The PGx testing evaluation working group is still looking at which new tests could be added to the Genomic Test Directory – which specifies the genomic tests that have already been picked up by NHSE&I, the technology they use and which patients will have access to them – the spokesperson added.

The NHS is still in the early stages of integrating the testing service across the system, the spokesperson clarified.

Read more: What could a successful pharmacy pharmacogenomics service look like?

PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton told C+D: “Community pharmacy could be well placed to support the future use of this technology, where the NHS wishes to make it available via primary care.”


Private pharmacy PGx testing services


Day Lewis and the Alitam group have hinted at their intention to launch their own PGx testing services across their chains, but the NHSE&I spokesperson clarified that these projects are independent of what is happening within the NHS.

David Wright, head of school of Allied Health Professions at the University of Leicester, worked with Day Lewis head of pharmacy Tim Rendell to study the introduction of pharmacy-based PGx testing.

Read more: ‘Super pharmacy’ CEO sets out plans for pharmacogenomics service

He told C+D earlier this year that he was hoping to apply for funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research this year, “to set up the service on a small scale”.

Meanwhile, Alitam founder and CEO Feisal Nahaboo told C+D that he believes that, out of all sectors of the UK’s healthcare system, community pharmacy is where the insights from pharmacogenomics will be most applicable.

He said: “Pharmacists are already, by the nature of their job, well versed in drug-drug interactions and drug-disease interactions.

“Alitam believes that within five years, patients will walk into pharmacies, hand over a script and ask their pharmacist to look up their genome and check for drug interactions.”

Earlier this year, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) argued that pharmacy teams could advise on “when and where PGx testing could be piloted”.

“PGx is a natural expansion of the role of the pharmacist and the pharmacy team when it becomes part of everyday practice,” the RPS wrote, adding that pharmacists could identify patients who would benefit from PGx testing, which they could then carry out.

Scotland is also looking into pharmacogenomics. In November last year, NHS Scotland put out a contract worth £66 million for the development of “an integrated Pharmacogenomics and Pharmaceutical Clinical Decision Support Service for NHS Scotland”.

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