Murrelle emphasizes PGx in education session at NACDS' 2010 Pharmacy & Technology Conference

SAN DIEGO The dizzying array of technical terminology that emerged from Venebio president and CEO Lenn Murrelle’s talk on personalized medicine Monday illustrated much of the new frontier of this emerging area of medicine, as well as its opportunities for retail pharmacy.

Murrelle’s talk, one of the education sessions at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ 2010 Pharmacy & Technology Conference in San Diego, paid particular attention to pharmacogenomics, the study of drug response as a function of an individual’s DNA and an important component of personalized medicine, also known as PGx.

Many of the opportunities in personalized medicine have benefited drug companies, such as the approval of companion diagnostic tests for several cancer drugs. But pharmacists can play a role and benefit as well, Murrelle said.

Holding up Kerr Drug’s work with the University of North Carolina as an example of research partnerships between retail pharmacies and universities, Murrelle said PGx presented a particular opportunity for such partnerships with academicians, regulatory agencies and research networks. Pharmacists also can provide gene-based diagnostic counseling, create PGx education programs with local schools of pharmacy and add PGx components to niche disease areas relevant to certain locales and markets, such as obesity.

“If it’s all about getting the right medication to the right patient at the right time, the community pharmacist must have a role to play,” he said.

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