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Contact Our Genetic Specialists

Avera Institute for Human Genetics
3720 W. 69th Street

Sioux Falls, SD 57108


Personalized Medicine at Avera

We are all different. So is the way our bodies process – or metabolize – medication. Personalized medicine offers cutting-edge technology that helps physicians know the right drug for each patient, at the right dose – all through a simple blood test.

Avera is unlocking the science behind pain management through our ability to select drugs that match each patient’s unique genetic characteristics.

Among common pain medications, there are drugs that work well for a given individual, and others that don’t work at all. To date, physicians have relied on a trial-and-error approach, or information from a person’s medical history. In comparison, personalized medicine harnesses genetic science and technology to understand how each individual metabolizes pain medications.

Avera is using personalized medicine to revolutionize the way Avera does health care.

This testing is provided right here in Sioux Falls, by experts at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics.

Personalized Medicine Details

What is personalized medicine?

Personalized medicine is the process of customizing health care or medical treatment specific to the individual's needs. Pharmacogenomics, the science of how an individual's genetic make-up affects how that individual will respond to medications, is one of the most important components of personalized medicine.

Treating patients with medications utilizes the best guidelines, but it is often on a trial-and-error basis, making it challenging for physicians to provide the right treatment every time. Pharmacogenomics provides clinicians with an additional tool to assist in prescribing the safest and most effective medications, helping to avoid adverse side effects.

What does the test involve?

The test involves a simnple blood draw, similar to other routine blood tests. Your blood will be analyzed by genetic experts at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics.

Qualifying for the personalized medicine test

Here are some of the questions we consider for determining who should have the test. Can you say “yes” to any of the following questions:

  • Are you taking five or more medications?
  • Do you feel like your medications are not working?
  • Are you over 65 years of age?
  • Are you experiencing unwanted side effects from medications you are currently taking?
  • Have you experienced unwanted side effects from medications you have taken in the past?
  • Have you been hospitalized in the last 30 days due to a medication issue?
  • Does more than one physician prescribe medicine to you?
  • Do you have one or more of the following conditions?
    • Chronic pain
    • Depression
    • Mental health condition
    • Migraines
    • Heart disease
    • Heart attack and/or surgery
    • Asthma/COPD
    • Organ transplant
    • Arthritis
    • Osteoporosis
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Diabetes
    • Peptic ulcer
    • Acid reflux
    • Enlarged prostate

How does pharmacogenomics work?

This test provides a genetic “snapshot” of how the liver metabolizes medication. The liver is the organ in which 90 percent of drug metabolizing takes place. A genetic analysis of your liver enzymes reveals how your body will metabolize certain medications. For example, will your body process a medication normally, quickly or slowly? The report also reveals how other medications may impact how your body processes medications.

Blood tests are analyzed, right here in Sioux Falls, by experts at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics. Physicians are sent an easy-to-interpret report that tells which medications will work best, and which medications won’t work well at all.

Some patients may have a completely normal metabolism, and the doctor will prescribe medications based on best practices and your medical history.


Is there an added cost for this testing?

For tests that are deemed medically necessary, your insurance may provide reimbursement; co-pays and deductibles will apply. Check with your insurance carrier to see if your plan provides coverage.

If you do not meet medical necessity for this testing and would still like to have it performed, there will be additional costs. Financial assistance may be available.


Is this a research study?

No. It’s a highly specialized lab test that has proven medical benefits.

How will you benefit from this test?

Rather than taking a medication and waiting to see if it works, this test eliminates the “trial and error.” With this approach, we expect your medical condition will be managed better, faster. Benefits may include the following:

  • Genetics-guided personalized treatment
  • Reduced medication side effects
  • Increased satisfaction with your care
  • Shorter hospital stays

Patient Example

Based on this patient’s genetic panel for pain medications, medications in red should be avoided and the medication in yellow should be used with caution. Medications in green should be evaluated by the physician and pharmacist for possible drug interactions, but otherwise would be good choices for this patient.

pain medications chart