Since the 1960s, the field of pharmacogenomics has blossomed. Researchers are daily discovering how a person’s genes and genome impact how they metabolize and react to various stimuli, including drugs and medicines. Although these discoveries have been most intensely applied to oncology, they’ve found a happy audience in children’s medicines, cardiovascular treatments, and even cures for the common cold.
The hangup for many of these fields has been the incredible cost of getting the proper genetic information to adjust a prescription or dosage suggestion on a patient by patient basis. Heretofore, getting that data has proven costly and time consuming and not for any incredible benefit to a large enough population to take off. In addition, there has been no collective database for housing all this information so that doctors can easily search diseases or conditions and find a list of the genes they need to account for when they consider prescribing medications.
However, modern developments in technology have driven down the cost significantly, leading to the increased feasibility of folding in this information into regular healthcare practices. Researchers at Avera Health are in the process of developing the GenFolio, a comprehensive searchable encyclopaedia. It’s functionality is simple: after testing a person’s genome from either a blood or saliva sample, GeneFolio produces an actionable plan for physicians to use to treat various maladies, from psychiatric disorders to cardiovascular problems.
Among the most popular modern buzzwords, up there with “millennial” and “leadership” is “transparency.” Especially with the dense thicket of jargon that surrounds the medical industry and political sphere, more and more individuals are calling for transparency regarding where money is coming from and going and who has a say in that movement. Of course, the field of pharmacogenomics is no different. With the importance of the data being handled and the technicalities of what happens, it’s absolutely urgent that clinics are open and transparent about what they’re doing with the money and data they have.
The US Department of Justice made an example out of a clinic that failed that remain honest and transparent regarding the whereabouts of its money. Noting a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, the DOJ settled for $3.5 million against Primex Clinical Laboratories and fined its CEO an additional $270,000. Two whistleblowers who were former employees of the company alerted the Justice Department as to the issues occurring at the company.
In the 1970s, Congress passed the Anti-Kickback Statute as a prevention measure against fraud against the US healthcare system. The statute explicitly prohibits any laboratory from offering doctors “remuneration” for patient referrals to keep everyone in the industry honest. Without the statute, Congress anticipated that clinics and other medical labs would pay doctors to send patients to them.
In the case of Primex Clinical Laboratories, the executives skirted the laws and offered cash incentives for doctors to send their patients’ DNA their direction, and offered an additional bonus if the DNA turned up anything of interest. After a thorough investigation, the DOJ decided that the incentives were against the law, and today, they’re paying a hefty fine as retribution.
It’s important to run a medical laboratory with the precision, accuracy, and respect for the law that’s necessary for a place of business and a place of repute. Transparency in procedures, finances, and legal matters is imperative to ongoing positive relationships with doctors, patients, and regulators.
As more local and state governments relax their policies on the usage of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purpose, the science has struggled to keep up. Long-held embargos and ethical objections have stopped scientists from performing scientifically rigorous tests on the effects of the drug on various people given their maladies or complaints.
To skirt policies, some scientists have performed their research in a makeshift lab on wheels. Colorado’s state government has fully legalized the use of marijuana for any purpose, but a 2014 federal law prohibits scientists from performing research on the effects of the drug with anything except federally-grown weed. In theory, the law was supposed to help uniformize all tests and keep confounding factors from obscuring the test’s results. The problem, though, is that weed users don’t only use federally-grown pot, and as such, the findings may be generally useless anyways.
Recently, some scientists wanted to apply the logic and basics of pharmacogenomics to the study of marijuana. That is, it’s been long established that users’ reactions to various stimuli, including drugs, pain, and viruses are determined at least in part by their genetic composition. Sometimes, a single gene or a group of genes will direct the speed and thoroughness with which something like a chemical or an intruder is metabolized.
Some cannabis enthusiasts in Canada are claiming that they can harness the work that pharmacogenomicists have done in the past 50 years or so to tailor strains of the plant to certain genomic characteristics. That is, they can assess someone’s genes using the likes of 23&Me and grow a kind of cannabis that will best complement the person’s ability to metabolize. From keeping people from developing a dependence to helping them avoid the dreaded munchies that accompany a high, the geneticists who are championing tailored cannabis believe that they can use genetic markers to develop the best strain for a person.
Acclaimed pharmacogenomicists are nervous to cosign these claims. While they’ve made great strides in tailoring drug cocktails and dosages based on what a person needs and can reasonably handle, the promise of a perfect batch of marijuana for a person’s genome seems a little far-fetched at the moment. Hopefully, the science will progress to that level someday, but given the difficulty the field has run into already with safe and reliable genetics, it may be a ways into the future that this vision of individualized blunts comes to be.
Hailing from North Palm Beach, Michael Harper is a highly accomplished business professional serving North Palm Beach, Florida, and Juno Beach, Florida. He has amassed over 15 years of experience within the areas of sales management, sales training, business development, and entrepreneurship.
Connect with Michael Harper on LinkedIn by clicking above
Over the past several years, Michael has begun to specialize almost exclusively in the clinical laboratory and diagnostic testing space. He currently serves as an Account Manager between clinical laboratories and healthcare providers. This line of work includes a variety of specialized blood testing, genetic testing, and much more. Michael Harper’s North Palm Beach and Juno Beach clients make up the largest percentage of his clientele, but the breadth of his services reaches all throughout Florida.
- Michael Harper Info
Michael has truly enjoyed this new, exciting undertaking as it has been a pleasure to work in an environment where there is a constant and ever-growing need to deliver timely and precise testing results to patients and healthcare providers. As Harper contends, the healthcare industry is a “people” service. That is why Michael Harper North Palm Beach prides himself on going the extra mile for his clients, ensuring that each patient gets the best possible care available. In laboratory testing, there is nothing more important than delivering accurate results and superior service to the physicians and providers.
Learn more about Michael Harper’s North Palm Beach and Juno Beach Business offerings by clicking above
Michael Harper is excited about what the future holds for the healthcare industry, specifically laboratory testing. He has been privy to the factual evidence that shows the industry is on the cusp of some incredible breakthroughs that will forever change the way we perform laboratory testing. As more doctors and scientists find their way down to Florida, more developments that will keep individuals from succumbing to addiction will find a market.
For healthcare providers and patients alike, the level of efficiency and effectiveness is nothing shy of impressive. Michael Harper North Palm Beach has already begun to see many of these changes take place. For years, blood tests have required six tubes of blood to be drawn. Nowadays, Michael is beginning to see the rollout of FDA-approved blood tests that require nothing more than a finger prick. This is just one example of the many revolutionary changes that our currently in development and soon to be introduced to the public.
Outside of his professional endeavors, Michael Harper’s North Palm Beach ties make him a dedicated philanthropist who cares deeply about supporting and giving back to the community. He credits his faith as the driving force behind his commitment to philanthropy. While he supports a wide range of causes, Michael is most passionate about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens. When it comes time to relax, Michael enjoys taking advantage of all that the great state of Florida has to offer.