Wednesday, November 7, 2012

YouScript: Life Changing Analysis

Elise Astleford was afraid that she was developing Alzheimer’s disease. Moments of confusion and forgetfulness plagued her to the point where simple joys like playing a card game became daunting. “I would have to put the cards down so carefully, it was impossible to focus.”

As new prescriptions frequently made her feel worse, whenever doctors prescribed a new drug, Elise would prepare herself for another trial and error experience by scheduling days off from her life as a retired Episcopal priest, to give herself time to see what would happen.

Often, her system couldn’t tolerate the new drug and would experience what felt like an extreme allergic reaction. Medications prescribed for even the most common conditions gave her terrible side effects.

Unable to function as she once had, Elise resigned herself to the idea that these symptoms were a sign of getting older, and feared her episodes of dementia were early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

After seeing an ad in a local publication, Elise sent a DNA sample to Genelex for drug sensitivity testing.

When her pharmacist ran her results and a list of the medications and over-the-counter drugs she was taking through the YouScript™ Personalized Prescribing System software, the problem became immediately clear. Astleford learned that she is an intermediate metabolizer of the cytochrome 2D6 and 2C19 enzymes.

The over-the-counter antihistamines Elise was taking contained the active ingredient, chlorpheniramine. Chlorpheniramine is metabolized by the CYP2D6 enzyme, and continued use would result in increased levels of the drug in her system, exposing her to possible adverse drug reactions that affect the central nervous system, such as dizziness, sedation, and altered mental states.

Her pharmacist advised she discontinue taking any medicines containing chlorpheniramine. She did, and the results were life changing. “It was like night and day. I feel like I got my life back.”

Now Elise runs everything by her pharmacist who uses YouScript™, “It is wonderful having a gifted pharmacist who understands that I am an intermediate metabolizer through two pathways and what that means.” Elise’s doctors, including her cardiologist, have now also received reports on which medications are safe or unsafe for Elise and what her proper dose is.

In September, Elise came to Seattle for a Genelex press conference where she told her story to TV and newspaper reporters. National and local news organizations covered the story, “All of a sudden I realized I wasn’t an old lady who was destined for a nursing home. My thinking is clearer and I have unexpected energy.”

Elise carries her YouScript™ card in her wallet, ready to tell her cautionary tale and encourages all healthcare providers to make pharmacogenetic testing the standard of care so fewer people will have to suffer through adverse drug reactions like hers.

These days, it’s not unusual to find Elise briskly walking along a park trail, playing a lively card game with friends or creating art. Her paintings are made into greeting cards which brighten the days of their recipients. It’s a far cry from the diminished quality of life she once thought she was destined for. □

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