Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
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LACOMBE, La. -- One-size-fits-all medicine may soon be a thing of the past.

Having a bad reaction to a medication is one of the leading causes of hospitalizations and death. Now a doctor in Lacombe has a solution.

Six years ago Roy Hollyfield, 68 of Mandeville, was playing golf when he became very tired. A doctor's exam to see why saved his life.

'He said, 'We're putting you into an ambulance right now and sending you to New Orleans to have surgery.' I was stunned because I worked out all the time,' said Hollyfield, who believes it was the displacement and stress after Hurricane Katrina that contributed to his heart condition.

After triple heart bypass surgery, Louisiana Heart Hospital cardiologist Dr. Umesh Patel wanted to put Roy on a blood thinner.

But first, he did something most doctors don't do on patients. He got a genetic test.

'So what genetics will do, is let us predict that a patient will respond well on this particular dose, to this particular medication. I was waiting for the breakthrough to tell me before I give you the prescription this is what you should do,' said Preventive Cardiologist Dr. Patel.

Roy is a perfect example. When he had his genetic test, it was discovered that blood thinners, such as Plavix, acts in his body, like he's got two to three times the amount. So doctors had to change and lower his dose.

'As we can see, the red flag is something that we certainly would like to change because you're not metabolizing this drug,' Advance Practice Cardiology Nurse Lori Quinn-Tate explains to Roy, looking over his genetic test results.

Only 60 percent of patients do well on certain recommended medications and doses. That is how different our individual metabolism can be.

'So essentially, this is the dawn of personalized medicine,' said Dr. Patel.

'Anything that can help me live longer, help see my grandchildren grow up, I'll be happy,' said Hollyfield.

Now when an insurance company tells the doctor what medicine to use first, the doctor can show it won't work, saving patients and insurers money down the road with fewer side effects and better efficacy.

The cheek swab is sent to Genotox Laboratories in Austin. The company sends back your detailed genetic report so that you can also use it with other doctors.

Most insurance companies and Medicare are covering the test.

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