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Advanced Medical Testing to Aid in Responsible Medication Management

Many Americans deal with various manifestations of chronic pain along with other conditions that make daily life difficult. These medical conditions may be treated with opioids, which can then make one more susceptible to addiction. Leading the way in responsible medication management and advanced testing, pain management physicians are backing a new approach: a testing battery that combines genetic risk with other personal factors to evaluate a patient's susceptibility to addiction. This new test can help to identify patients at high risk of addiction, before a potentially fatal prescription is written.

On the forefront of this technology, National Spine and Pain Centers is making use of this new gene-based test. Pain management specialist, Dr. Ashish Shanbhag practicing out of Woodbridge, VA, believes this gene-based test can help identify patients who could be predisposed to addiction. The test is made by Proove Biosciences; it functions by scoring a patient’s risk of addiction based on genes and genetics, including COMT, dopamine receptors, and the opioid MU1 receptor gene.

Other parts of the addiction-risk score in the algorithm come from personal factors. These include age, personal medical history, previous substance abuse as well as any history of depression.

“I have used the test on hundreds of patients,” said Shanbhag. “What I’m really trying to do is tailor the therapy toward your specific genes to make sure we optimize the medications we get for you.”

For patients with low-risk, Dr. Shanbhag is confident he can safely use opioids. Then using the Proove Opioid Response test — a separate test that analyzes how patients respond to and metabolize various drugs, he can choose an effective opioid. In patients at moderate or high risk, the doctor looks for alternatives, like injections or other interventional procedures.

“Think of the reduced total burden on society from a social, economic and medical perspective as we do this,” says Dr. Shanbhag.