Inter-individual variation of drug metabolising enzymes (DMEs) leads to variable efficacy of many drugs and even adverse drug responses. Consequently, it would be desirable to test variants of many DMEs before drug treatment. Inter-ethnic differences in frequency mean that the choice of SNPs to test may vary across population groups. Here we examine the utility of testing representative groups as a way of assessing what variants might be tested. We show that publicly available population information is potentially useful for determining loci for pre-treatment genetic testing, and for determining the most prevalent risk haplotypes in defined groups. However, we also show that the NHS England classifications have limitations for grouping for these purposes, in particular for people of African descent. We conclude: (1) genotyping of hospital patients and people from the hospital catchment area confers no advantage over using samples from appropriate existing ethnic group collections or publicly available data, (2) given the current NHS England Black African grouping, a decision as to whether to test, would have to apply to all patients of recent Black African ancestry to cover reported risk alleles and (3) the current scarcity of available genome and drug effect data from Africans is a problem for both testing and treatment decisions.
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