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Trying out medication can be a dreadful experience. Whether you discover irritating side effects, or simply find the medicine to be ineffective, the process can be tedious.

With so much that could go wrong with a new prescription, one might wonder why nothing’s being done to solve this issue.

Well, actually, there is.

It’s happening right here in Northwest Indiana at Great Lakes Labs located in Valparaiso. What’s even greater is that a solution to the dilemma has found itself in its infancy.

Enter the PGX test, a medical analysis which derives information from DNA that aims to determine the side effects and effectiveness of a drug before you take it.

Let’s say there’s a patient — about to have triple bypass surgery — who isn’t aware of his fast-working metabolism. A surgeon looks at weight, age and gender, thus calculating how much medication the patient requires for pain or to remain sedated.

But because of the patient’s metabolism, there isn’t enough morphine to keep him unconscious, resulting in the patient waking up during surgery in agony. If everyone took a PGX test at birth, nightmares such as this could potentially be avoidable.

And that’s just an example of what the test could do.

The future implications of PGX are positive to say the least.

So why doesn’t this broadly exist already?

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Clinical studies continue, and it's not likely the pharmaceutical companies of America will be fully on board.

The truth is, some doctors want to fill out prescriptions. It’s a part of their job. Filling out multiple prescriptions for one person gets them paid. You can’t blame them. It’s simply what they do to maintain their career.

I’m not saying that all doctors are giving out bad prescriptions willingly, but I am saying Big Pharma could be motivated to keep the odds of you picking the right medication as low as possible to sell more scripts. 

As a senior at Crown Point High School, I’m curious to see what impact PGX testing will have on my generation. More kids today are subjected to various forms of medication to get through their day to day than ever before.

Personally, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder in sixth grade and have taken a wide variety of dosages along the way.

Despite always struggling to determine its effectiveness, I never thought of my medication as something that could have a negative impact on my health. I took it because it’s what I had to do to maintain my grades.

I had been taught all my life to suck it up: “There’s things in life you don’t want to do,” a phrase I hear all the time.

If PGX can alleviate the stress on students in school, I believe it would be a big step forward toward better mental health in our community.

In today’s age of school shootings and heightened distress among young students, PGX may even help prevent senseless violence at the source. Just imagining that a potential shooter could be reformed by a simple genetic test and a change of psychiatric medication is a wonderful thought.

It won’t completely fix the school shooting epidemic, of course. However, I find it to be much more graceful and humane than having armed guards patrolling the halls like a federal prison.

Jacob Johansson is a senior at Crown Point High School. The opinions are the writer's.

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