NHS England will create eight ‘genomic networks of excellence‘, with £15m of funding over the next two years, to develop evidence and models of adoption for genomic advances and technology applications in the NHS, it has announced.
A dedicated network focused on pharmacogenomics and medicines optimisation will be one of the eight networks, which will aim to develop the rollout of pharmacogenomics and medicines optimisation in the NHS.
NHS England said this would include furthering the rollout of pharmacogenomics in primary care, to address adverse or ineffective medication reactions by using an individual’s genetic information to inform medicine selection and dosing.
In October 2022, NHS England published ‘Accelerating Genomic Medicine in the NHS‘, the first NHS genomics strategy, which included a plan to establish the genomic networks of excellence as part of its commitment to provide an NHS genomic medicine service.
NHS England said the networks have been designed to bring together NHS staff, academic experts, industry partners and patient groups to tackle some of the most pressing challenges for the NHS, leveraging expertise and resources from the broader genomics ecosystem.
The pharmacogenomics network will work with the Manchester National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre, the NIHR Academic Health Science Network (AHSNs), and partners from industry, NHS England said.
Cara Mackenzie, lead for pharmacogenomics at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said: “The pharmacogenomics and medicines optimisation network of excellence will build on the fantastic and innovative work already being undertaken in this area, helping to support the wider implementation of genomics in practice.
“Medicines are the most common therapeutic intervention in healthcare, and by using a patient’s individual genetic information to ensure both the medicine prescribed and the dosage selected is optimal, the benefits for patients are profound. These include: reduced time to optimal condition management, increased patient safety, reduced adverse effects of medicines and reducing pressures on healthcare systems.
“Pharmacists, as the experts in medicines, are perfectly placed to support the adoption and wider rollout of pharmacogenomics within primary care and the wider NHS. At the RPS, we look forward to further supporting pharmacists in this area, and are excited to continue to collaboratively support the work of the wider NHS, ensuring patient benefit.”
Dame Sue Hill, chief scientific officer for England, said: “We need to continue to push the boundaries of health and science to improve care and treatment options for all of our patients. Emboldened by our strategy, with the vision of delivering equitable access to testing, our networks will delve deeper into the tapestry of genomics to help make this vision a reality.”
A group of 11 pharmacy bodies published a position statement in April 2023, calling for pharmacists to be involved in the delivery and evaluation of genomic medicines services. The statement said that pharmacists’ skills could be used in emerging roles as genomic medicine expands to cover wider aspects of healthcare.
Earlier in January 2024, research based on England’s 100,000 Genomes Project revealed further details on how genomics could help guide decisions about cancer treatments.