Hereditary differences in toxicity or efficacy that result from exposure to therapeutic agents are obviously relevant to pharmacogenetics, but if the unexpected response results from exposure to other chemicals, or to physical, climatic, or atmospheric agents, it may be classified as ecogenetic. Ecogenetics encompasses genetically conditioned responses to exogenous substances from any source, and as such, includes the pharmacogenetics of drugs used in medical practice. Despite this distinction, the literature does not always adhere to this convention. When it is of interest to assess the characteristics of a given response, the criteria to be met in designing and executing a proper study to determine the heritability of the response in twins and families, and the distribution and incidence of genotypes and phenotypes in larger populations, are, in fact, identical for pharmacogenetics and ecogenetics.
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