Genetic Differences and Medicines

Published Online: Friday, November 1, 2002

Why are some medicines more effective in some patients than in others? According to a study published in the October Journal of the National Medical Association, responses to medications among minority patients can vary based on genetic, cultural, and environmental factors. For example, East Asians often require higher dosages of codeine than Caucasions for effective pain relief.

General differences are also seen in the underlying characteristics of high blood pressure for black and Caucasian patients. Because black patients tend to have a higher incidence of salt-sensitive high blood pressure, diuretics used in combination with other blood pressure medications may be necessary to achieve targeted blood pressure levels.

?A ?one-drug-fits-all? approach to therapy does not take into account individual patient responses to medicines,? said L. Natalie Carroll, MD, president of the National Medical Association. ?New science is helping to identify differences in the ways individuals react to drug therapy. Any attempt to control spending should take such differences into account.? To view the full study, go to

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