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Physician Survey Shows Education Big Factor in PGx Adoption

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Physicians who are well informed about genomic testing are twice as likely to order such tests in their practice as those who are less informed, according to a survey released today at the American Society of Human Genetics annual conference in Hawaii.

However, the survey also found that only 10 percent of the same group believe they are well informed about such tests.

A survey, based on responses from more than 10,000 doctors from Medco Health Solutions and the American Medical Association, found that most physicians believe that personal genomic information can be useful in their care for patients and help them make treatment decisions. But the majority said they do not know enough about such tests.

The survey, which was conducted in 2008, found that 13 percent of doctors had either ordered or recommended pharmacogenomic tests for their patients in the preceding six months, but that more than 26 percent planned to do so within the following six months.

There is a general lack of formalized pharmacogenomics training among physicians, the survey found, with 26 percent of respondents saying that they had received some form of education in the subject either in medical school or after graduation. Yet, according to the survey, 98 percent of these physicians agreed that patient genetic profiles may influence drug therapy.

"This research generates important insight about where physicians stand on pharmacogenomic testing," Medco CEO Robert Epstein said in a statement. "It's clear that there is wide acceptance that genetic testing has a role in patient care, but the need for formal training and education among physicians is necessary to obtain greater adoption and implementation of these tests in clinical practice."

Because there are a "number of new drugs coming to market with a companion diagnostic, it's paramount that this education take place," he added.

Joseph Annis, a member of the AMA's board of trustees, said that the association is "committed to providing education and resources to physicians in this growing and important area of medical science so that they can appropriately use genetically-based technology, such as pharmacogenomic testing."