What is Pharmacogenomics (PGx) Testing?

What is Pharmacogenomics (PGx) Testing?

Our understanding of human DNA and how our genes impact our health has grown exponentially over the past few decades. From these discoveries, a key area of research has emerged known as pharmacogenomics—the study of how genes affect the body’s response to certain medications.

Just as your genes determine the basic truths of your biology—things like your height and eye and hair color—genes also determine how your body reacts to certain medications. No medication works the same for everyone; in fact, results can vary widely.

Although more than 5 billion prescriptions are filled each year1, response rates for many drugs are only 50-75%2. It is estimated that ineffective medications produce an additional $528 billion in healthcare costs each year.3

Pharmacogenomics (PGx) testing looks at specific genes that affect the body’s response to certain medications. This information can be used by your healthcare provider to:

  • Determine which medications are most and least likely to be effective for you
  • Determine what the best dosage might be for you
  • Predict whether you will have a serious side effect from a medication

Research has shown that >90% of patients possess clinically actionable genetic variants that affect their drug response.4,5

How Genes Predict Drug Effectiveness

Each of us has a system of proteins that influence how we metabolize, transport, and respond to medications in our bodies. Using genetics to understand these proteins makes it possible to predict how effective a medication will be.

Studies have shown that a family of liver enzymes called Cytochrome P450 (CYP450), which is largely responsible for neutralizing impurities in the blood, conduct about 90% of drug metabolization.6

Your body sees medications as impurities. As soon as a medication hits your bloodstream, your CYP450 begins breaking it down. How much of a given CYP450 enzyme your body produces is determined by your genes. In general, if you have a lot, it will clean medications out of your bloodstream quickly. If you have only a little, the medication will build up over time.

Typically, medication dosages are set for people with an average level of CYP450 enzymes. PGx testing helps your healthcare provider determine if your dose needs to be increased or decreased and whether a medication that works for most people might be ineffective or even dangerous for you.

Scientists have classified CYP450 enzymes into three primary categories:

  1. Rapid metabolizer: A rapid metabolizer breaks down medications very quickly, which means your body may not be exposed to enough of it and the medication won’t be as effective.
  2. Slow metabolizer: A slow metabolizer breaks down medications very slowly. As a result, medications metabolized by these enzymes might remain in the body longer, which could lead to adverse side effects.
  3. Extensive metabolizer: An extensive metabolizer breaks down medications at what is considered a ‘normal’ rate. Ideally, providers should consider choosing medications that fall in this category.

Benefits of Pharmacogenomics Testing

One of the areas PGx testing is revolutionizing is in mental health treatment. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common psychiatric disorders in the U.S. Approximately 40 million American adults have some form of anxiety disorder.7

The good news is that there are many different psychiatric medications available to help patients with anxiety. The bad news is that it can be challenging to find the right medication and dosage that both maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects and adverse drug reactions.

As a result, psychiatric medication is often prescribed on a trial-and-error basis, with healthcare providers monitoring the patient’s response and then adjusting medications or doses as needed. This process can be frustrating, time-consuming, expensive, and can potentially make the patient’s condition worse before the right combination is found. In fact, 50% of depression patients do not respond to the first medication they try.8

Instead of going through the painstaking process of trial and error, pharmacogenomics testing can help providers select medications and dosages most likely to be effective from the start.

One study showed that on average, patients with mood/anxiety disorders using PGx testing have a ~$2,000 reduction in health care costs, 40% reduction in ER visits, and a 60% reduction in hospitalizations.9 In a separate study, individuals who received PGx-guided decision support tools therapy were 1.71 times more likely to achieve symptom remission relative to individuals who received treatment as usual.10

LifeKit® PreScript from SOLVD Health

SOLVD Health is driving innovation and making health possible by helping healthcare providers use genetic testing to identify the best possible treatment paths for their patients. SOLVD Health’s LifeKit® PreScript is a genetic test that helps providers, based on their patient’s DNA, identify which medications are most likely to be effective and which should be avoided.

Using a simple cheek swab sample, LifeKit PreScript analyzes 14 genetic variants that impact how a person’s body metabolizes medication. Providers receive a detailed report that indicates how an individual will respond to the medications they are currently prescribed, as well as any medications being considered for future use, to help support more informed decision-making about drug selection. The result is a treatment designed specifically for you.


1IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics
2Spear BB, Heath-Chiozzi M, Hu J: Clinical application of pharmacogenetics. Trends Mol. Med.7, 201–204 (2001).
3Watanabe, J. H., et al. Cost of Prescription Drug–Related Morbidity and Mortality. Annals of Pharmacotherapy. 2018; 52(9), 829–837.
4Van Driest, SL, et. al., Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2014; 95(4): 423–431.
5Yuan, J. et. al., Jmol Diag. 2016; 18(3): 438-445.
6Lynch, T., & Price, A. (2007). The Effect of Cytochrome P450 Metabolism on Drug Response, Interactions, and Adverse Effects. American Family Physician, 391–396. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0801/p391.html
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Facts & Statistics. Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.
8Perlis et al. Pharmacogenetic Testing Among Patients With Mood and Anxiety Disorders Is Associated With Decreased Utilization and Cost: A Propensity-Score Matched Study. Depression and Anxiety. 2018; 35(10), 946–952.
9Bousman et al. Pharmacogenetic tests and depressive symptom remission: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials; Dec 2018 https://doi.org/10.2217/pgs-2018-0142
10Trivedi MH, Rush AJ, Wisniewski SR, et al. Evaluation of outcomes with citalopram for depression using measurement-based care in STAR*D: implications for clinical practice. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163(1):28-40.

Introducing SOLVD Health, A Patient Intelligence Company

Introducing SOLVD Health, A Patient Intelligence Company

Currently, most of us only interact with the healthcare system after we get sick. Because we often don’t seek care until after we’ve started experiencing symptoms, many health conditions are diagnosed too late and require treatment to manage them. The effects of disease, treatment, and the side effects of treatment not only cause suffering for patients and their families, but also social, emotional, and financial hardship. Yet many of these diseases are completely preventable.

Our Mission

At SOLVD Health (formerly Prescient Medicine), our mission is to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges by bringing contextual and actionable health information to everyone, before they get sick. Our work is driven by our belief in creating a world where people don’t have to become patients.

This is a big, bold vision, and we’re ready and eager to rise to the challenge. That’s because we believe the key to our future health lies within us. Modern technology and big data have made it possible to identify early warning signs from our bodies, known as biological signals, that can predict our risk for disease and our future health before we ever get sick. We call this information Patient Intelligence.

Patient Intelligence

In order to prevent disease and realize our health potential, we must first understand the signals of disease. Through the discovery and conversion of biological signals into predictive, actionable, and contextual Patient Intelligence, we are enabling individuals and their healthcare providers to make better decisions about their health and the health of their families.

By combining genetics-based patient insights with cutting-edge technologies like machine learning and custom algorithms, Patient Intelligence has the potential to transform healthcare by:

• Empowering patients and their healthcare providers with objective, actionable information to keep them healthy
• Giving patients insights about their future health risks and helping engage them as a partner in their health management
• Enabling healthcare professionals to make data-driven decisions with more confidence and efficiency
• Enabling healthcare systems to stratify the health risks within their populations at scale, so that they can identify high-risk individuals and deliver the right prevention strategies at the right time

Patient Intelligence changes the relationship we have with our health system from only engaging when we are sick to having an ongoing relationship that is focused on keeping us healthy. Patient Intelligence puts our illness-focused care system on the path to becoming a modernized, true health system. We believe that Patient Intelligence leads us to a future where health is possible for everyone.

Our Core Values

At SOLVD Health, our core values form the heart of our company, guiding everything from our product design philosophy to our regulatory strategy to our customer communications and our hiring practices. These values are what we prioritize day in and day out as we work toward creating a world where people never have to become patients.


We are intentional and purposeful about everything we do.

• We find biological signals that would convert to viable products and bring them to market responsibly.
• We take a data-driven approach and work hard to generate the evidence we need to make sure people are confident when they do business with us.
• Our product design philosophy requires that our products:
– Meet regulatory requirements
– Are useful
– Are safe and effective
– Have economics that work
– Have evidence to back them up
– Are accessible
• We create and sustain a workplace where everyone is aligned with our company mission, goals, and values.


We put people at the heart of everything we do.

• People and their health are our number one priority.
• We don’t just sell tests—we want to improve people’s lives.
• We go above and beyond to understand patients’ and providers’ needs.
• We strive to create products and solutions that patients and their providers can trust to confidently access their health information.
• For healthcare teams, we care deeply about making it easier for them to care for patients. We go beyond just building products—we build tools, education programs, and a community that supports them so they can do what they do best.
• We are authentic, empathetic, and respectful in the way we communicate and treat each other.
• Our employees are valued and feel like active contributors.


We see opportunity in the biggest healthcare challenges.

• We have the courage to solve the biggest unmet needs in healthcare, problems that others have not been brave enough to tackle. We do so by:
– Identifying novel biological signals that can be translated into health products that solve large unmet health problems
– Creating a unique business model that ensures that impactful products can get to the people who need them quickly
– Building a platform that enables continuous discovery of novel biological signals
– Partnering strategically to go beyond providing information, to also provide interventions
• We believe innovation is about taking risks and encourage our employees to think differently and think bigger so we can solve big challenges together.


We empower people to take action through knowledge.

• We believe that knowledge is power.
• Our products are designed to put people and their care teams in control of their future health by giving them the actionable and contextual information they need to make lifestyle and healthcare decisions to prevent disease.
• We empower healthcare providers to make data-driven decisions about treatment plans and interventions so that they can treat their patients with confidence.
• We hire great people and trust them to do their jobs.
• We give our employees the tools, training, and support they need to be successful.


We are determined to bring clarity where there is ambiguity.

• We focus on building products for people and their care teams that:
– Provide clarity about their health risks
– Have clear actions/interventions that they can take to mitigate risk
• Our approach is to be clear and transparent in our communications with our customers, partners, and across the company (vertically and horizontally), always.
• We are clear about our mission and what we need to focus on to get there.

Join Us

We are convinced that predictive, contextual, and actionable health insights can be used to prevent disease and transform healthcare for everyone. Our goal is to accelerate the development of these much-needed health insights, bring them through the regulatory process, and make them available to healthcare providers and their patients. Join us on our journey by signing up for our email list below and follow us on LinkedIn.