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Introduction to pharmacogenetics
  1. John Henry McDermott12,
  2. William Newman12
  1. 1 Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK
  2. 2 Division of Evolution, Infection and Genomics, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr John Henry McDermott, Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, Manchester, UK; john.mcdermott{at}


There is considerable interindividual variability in the effectiveness and safety of medicines. Although the reasons for this are multifactorial, it is well recognised that genetic changes impacting the absorption or metabolism of these drugs play a significant contributory role. Understanding how these pharmacogenetic variants impact response to medicines, and leveraging this knowledge to guide prescribing, could have significant benefits for patients and health services. This article provides an introduction to the field of pharmacogenetics, including its nomenclature, the existing evidence base and the current state of implementation globally. We discuss the challenges in translating pharmacogenetic research into clinical practice and highlight the considerable benefits which can emerge in those health services where implementation is successful.

  • Drug interactions
  • Pharmacy
  • Polypharmacy

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  • Competing interests None declared. Refer to the online supplementary files to view the ICMJE form(s).

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.