Pharmacists have been urged to share their views on what a pharmacogenetic service should look like in the UK.

Clinical academics in Manchester have launched a new survey seeking healthcare professional’s preferences for the development of a future pharmacogenetic service, as part of an NHS trial.

And they have stressed that the involvement of pharmacists within its creation ‘will be critical to its success’.

The research team has therefore appealed to community pharmacists to complete the online questionnaire, which introduces the concept of pharmacogenetics and presents a series of hypothetical choices to pick from.

Dr John McDermott, honorary clinical lecturer at the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, said the aim of the research – the NHS PROGRESS trial – is to ‘develop an end-to-end platform for the delivery of pharmacogenetics in clinical practice’.

He said: ‘Using genetic data to improve the safety and effectiveness of medicines, a concept known as pharmacogenetics, could deliver significant benefits across the NHS for patients and the healthcare service as a whole.

‘Over the past decade we have learned how common genetic variation can influence an individual’s response to medicines, and evidence-based guidelines to support pharmacogenetic guided prescribing are now available.’

Despite this, Dr McDermott noted that within the NHS, implementation of pharmacogenetics is ‘limited to a small number of drug-gene pairs’.

‘This is typically carried out reactively, where variants in single genes are tested at the point of prescription,’ he noted.

Dr McDermott added: ‘The NHS, via the PROGRESS programme, is currently looking to develop an alternative strategy for implementation, co-designed with clinical and public stakeholders.’

And the ‘overarching ambition’, he said, was to create a service which is ‘interoperable and scalable’.

‘As this data is relevant across an individual’s life and for many classes of medicine, this information is relevant in multiple healthcare contexts,’ added Dr McDermott.

‘The approach will ensure that patients should benefit from this intervention whether they’re in general practice, community pharmacy, or a hospital setting.’

It is vital that the design of any service ‘should be informed by the opinions and experiences of the healthcare professionals who will be using it’, he said.

‘By working with healthcare professionals and the public, the PROGRESS programme hopes to implement pharmacogenetics within routine practice,’ he added.

And he stressed that pharmacists ‘will play a significant role in any future programme, and their involvement in its development will be critical to its success’.