Pharmacogenetics can help prevent workplace accidents

DAILYPHARMA | 05.24.2022 – 11:53

Genomic Medicine, and pharmacogenetics in particular, is a cross-application science that will have an impact on all areas of medicine, including in the field of Occupational Medicine. Thus, the ‘omics’ sciences can help prevent risks or accidents in the workplace, improve the health status of the worker and prevent the loss of working hours caused by complex pathologies.

However, occupational physicians need more training to take advantage of all the possibilities offered by Genomic Medicine. This has been indicated by Ignacio Romero Quintano, member of the Scientific Committee of the AEEMT and moderator of the table ‘Update in Medical Genomics’ -with the collaboration of the Roche Institute Foundation-, held within the framework of the I International Congress of Medicine and Nursing of the Work and XII Spanish Congress of Occupational Medicine and Nursing, organized by the Spanish Association of Specialists in Occupational Medicine (AEEMT).

Romero assures that “there is a lack of training among occupational physicians in Genomic Medicine. New things are discovered every day and all health professionals have to start from that base of what genomics already offers us today”, he added. Adrián Llerena, director of the Biosanitary Research Institute of Extremadura (INUBE) and one of the experts participating in the table ‘Update in Medical Genomics’, has commented on the applications of Genomic Medicine in Occupational Medicine.

Llerena, also president of the Spanish Society of Pharmacogenetics and Pharmacogenomics (SEFF), explained that pharmacogenetics tries to identify the variability in the response to drugs. Specifically, it allows the identification of possible therapeutic failures and the identification of adverse reactions of genetic origin. For the expert, “in Occupational Medicine, pharmacogenetics, pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine in general should be incorporated into occupational risk prevention plans as a quaternary prevention tool. That is, to reduce the risk associated with adverse reactions that may occur in therapeutic interventions.

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Thus, the use of pharmacogenetic tools would allow occupational physicians to respond to sick leave due to negative reactions to drugs. “If the occupational doctor had this training, they could identify his medication and consider the possibility of referring him to the corresponding specialist so that he reconsiders his treatment,” Romero specified.

The experts gathered at the congress have also raised another advantage of incorporating Genomic Medicine in Occupational Medicine: the application of this genetic variability in the response to drugs to see which workers are susceptible to industrial toxicity.

For Romero, “it would be very important for our specialty to be able to have individualized information on the sensitivity that a worker may have to exposure to any toxin, from pesticides, disinfectants or solvents, among others”. In this sense, the specialist recalled that there is still a lot of occupational cancer that is perfectly preventable and underdiagnosed: “We have cancers that are simply diagnosed, but whose origin is work-related or that some work-related toxin has added to make it develop or be worse. forecast”.

Romero considers that the current challenge for Occupational Medicine is the acquisition of “a basic training of what medical genomics currently provides us”. Words signed by the managing director of the Roche Institute Foundation, Consuelo Martín de Dios, who commented that “Genomic Medicine cuts across all medical disciplines; also in Occupational Medicine, it has and will have a relevant role in improving the health of workers”, she remarked.

Occupational Medicine is made up of five areas of competence: preventive, assistance, expert, manager and teacher and researcher. One of its powers is the prevention of occupational accidents. According to the president of the AEEMT, Luis Reinoso-Barbero, “Occupational Medicine can help in the work environment, in terms of the health determinants described by the World Health Organization, by 20% –avoiding risks and assessing unavoidable ones.

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For Reinoso-Barbero, it is very important to know which are the most prevalent occupational accidents in each company and sector in order to avoid them. “Once we know what they are, the ideal is to apply article 15 of the Occupational Risk Prevention Law on how to proceed in this regard,” she concluded.


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