As a pharmacist and a mother of two, it hurts me to see children and young adults struggle to manage mental illnesses, ADHD and even ASD with medications that aren't working.
For example, a mother brings in her child who has recently been diagnosed with ADHD.
The pediatrician or psychiatrist may start out with methylphenidate (Ritalin). After three months of being on it and not seeing any results, the mother and doctor decide to discontinue the methylphenidate therapy.
Next, they move to dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall). The medication seems to be helping the child focus, but its REALLY affecting their appetite. Over the next 6 months the child continues to lose weight, the mother and doctor decide to try another new medication.
After 9 months of trial and error, they finally try the child on lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) and find a winner.
Every person is different and therefore the next person who walks into my pharmacy and hands me a script for Adderall may respond wonderfully to the therapy and do great the first time.
But, what if there was a better way to know BEFORE the medicine was ever taken?
These months of struggling to find the right drug could have potentially been avoided if a simple genetic test was performed before starting the medications.
A genetic test would tell the doctor or pharmacist which drugs would work best ("green" drugs) and which could be potentially ineffective or even harmful ("red" drugs).
If your child is being put on a new ADHD or other types of psychoactive medications, consider getting them a genetic test.
A trained pharmacist or healthcare provider would be able to help you interpret the test and use it to create a "health roadmap" for identifying potentially harmful or beneficial medications that will be useful throughout your child's life.
If you'd like to discuss setting up a Genetic Consult and getting your Health Roadmap, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and recommendations on how genetic testing can help your healthcare provider choose safer, more effective medications.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Blair Green Thielemier, PharmD is an medication therapy management consultant pharmacist living in Arkansas with her husband and two children. She is also the founder of Genetic Consults, a program that helps patients understand their genetics and use that information to guide future medical care.
Blair Green Thielemier, PharmD is an independent consultant pharmacist living in Arkansas with her husband and two children. She is also the founder of Genetic Consults, a program that helps patients understand their genetics and use their information to guide future medical care.