Research Priorities for Australian Pharmacogenomics

Australian Genomics developed a report for the Medical Research Future Fund, detailing priorities for pharmacogenomics research going forward.

Pharmacogenomics studies how a person’s genetic makeup influences their body’s reaction to prescribed medication. It is a rapidly evolving field with the potential to revolutionise the way medication is used to treat patients. Pharmacogenomic testing in healthcare can guide more effective use of medications and prevent patients from experiencing negative side effects.  

In Australia alone it is estimated that 250,000 hospital admissions each year are due to the negative side effects of medication, costing the healthcare system AUD 1.4 billion. Outcomes from pharmacogenomics research are rapidly being applied in countries such as the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and high-income South-East Asian countries.

Aligning with the Genomics Health Futures Mission research priorities, Australian Genomics started a study to identify the challenges and barriers to pharmacogenomic testing availability in healthcare. The study consulted key Australian stakeholders with disciplinary knowledge in medicine, clinical pharmacology, pharmacy, ethics, public health, psychiatry, industry, bioinformatics, Indigenous health, as well as consumers while also looking at international examples. Based on these existing and potential challenges going forward, the project has developed recommendations to establish pharmacogenomic testing in the Australian healthcare system.

Some of the key recommendations from the study included:

  • Expanding pharmacogenomic testing where it can improve medicine use.
  • Establishing a national network with individuals and organisations (e.g. from academic research, clinical care, and industry) for cross-sector coordination and leadership.  
  • Conducting pharmacogenomic research to show how testing can be used in healthcare practice.
  • Identifying which patients will most benefit from pharmacogenomic testing.

In response to the ‘Research Priorities for Australian Pharmacogenomics’ report, the Medical Research Future Fund initiated a grant opportunity for research to ‘develop pharmacogenomic approaches to enhance medication efficacy and reduce harm by preventing adverse side effects.’  This will allow for further research into pharmacogenomic testing and its benefits for patients.

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