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PHASER program

The PHASER program is pharmacogenomic (PGx) testing for Veterans that uses people's genes to understand how they respond to medicines. Genes are parts of our DNA that provide instruction on how your body develops and functions. Everyone has small differences in their genes so people may respond different to medicines.

The VA PGx test

The PHASER program supports PGx testing for Veterans, providing a genetic test for medicines. Along with other medical information, you PGx test results help your provider determine if there is a better dose or type of medicine for you.

Benefits

Knowing about how your genes affect medicines can help your health care team:

  • Decide which medicines and doses may work better for you
  • Help avoid side effects caused by medicines

How do we perform PGx testing?

The test requires one tube of blood. It will take up to two weeks for your health care team to get results and add them to your VA medical record.

Your provider will discuss and answer your questions about:

  • What the PGx test results may find
  • What happens to your sample after testing
  • Your privacy
  • Benefits, limitations and risks

Limitations

Genetics only tells us part of the story. Other things like age, overall health, other medicines you take and body size also affect how you respond to medicines. The VA PGx test does not test for all genes, but only certain genes that we know affect selected medicines. There may be other medicines you are taking that are affected by genes that we do not test for.

Risks

The risk is low, like other tests that require blood draws. The medicine recommended by your PGx test may be more expensive if it is not preferred by the VA. You might receive an unexpected test result describing a risk for a medical problem. Your VA healthcare team will work with you to manage your test results.

Privacy

Your PGx test results will be kept confidential within the VA and will only be shared with your permission or if there is a court order.

After you have done the VA PGx test

Test results

Your results show each gene tested by gene name. The type of gene you have is described in 2 ways – the genotype and phenotype – both describe the type of differences in genes that were found by the test.

What do these results mean?

Many of the genes tested describe how your body processes medicines. For example, rapid metabolizers process some medicines quickly. Poor metabolizers may not process some medicines well.

Remember, not all genes tested affect your medicines you are currently prescribed. Similarly, not all of your medicines are affected by the genes tested. Please talk to your provider or pharmacist about how your test results apply to your medicines.

How long can my PGx results be used in my medical care?

PGx test results do not change overtime. However, new information may change how the results are used. Scientists are still working to find other genes that are important for medicine response. You may be tested for new genes discovered in the future.

How will my PGx test results be used?

Your test results only tell us part of the story. Other things like age, overall health, other medicines you take, and body size also affect how your body responds to medicines. Your provider will use all these factors to prescribe the most appropriate medicines and doses for you.

What should I do with my test results?

PGx test results can be complex. Talk to your provider about questions or concerns for the most correct information. If you see more than one provider, please share your test results with your other providers. This is especially helpful if a different provider starts a new medicine for you, or if you see a provider outside the VA.

Questions?

George Gettys MD, MPH

Clinical director

Lovell Federal health care

Email: george.gettys@va.gov

Marshall Lee PharmD

Clinical pharmacy specialist

Lovell Federal health care

Phone: 224-610-5989

Email: marshall.lee5@va.gov