Pharmacogenomic testing is coming to a pharmacy near you, following a joint venture between the British Columbia Pharmacy Association and myDNA, a genetic interpretation service based in Melbourne, Australia.
The partnership, announced Thursday, will enable any pharmacy in Canada to make myDNA’s multi-gene panel test available to patients. The test covers up to 30 per cent of the most commonly prescribed medications, including those for mental health, pain, cardiovascular drugs and proton pump inhibitors.
The process for patients is very straightforward: after their DNA is swabbed in the pharmacy, the results are sent to the pharmacist and treating doctor with recommendations based on the current medications they’re taking and future medications that could be considered. The patient receives a myDNA card that provides individual details for accessing the company’s portal. “From then on, they can get information on what their genes mean for the rest of their lives,” says Dr. Lior Rauchberger, executive director of myDNA.
In a recent trial conducted by myDNA, 46 per cent of patients tested had a major genetic finding directly relevant to at least one of their currently prescribed medications, while 36 per cent of patients referred back to their prescribing doctor as a result of the test had a medication change, according to Rauchberger.
The joint venture comes on the heels of a year-long research project funded by the B.C. Pharmacy Association and Genome BC at the University of British Columbia, which concluded that community pharmacy could be the conduit for patients to access pharmacogenomic testing.
Geraldine Vance, chief executive officer of the B.C. Pharmacy Association, says pharmacogenomics offers a clear opportunity for pharmacists. “. . . We’ve gone from an intuitive idea three years ago to . . . having the opportunity to see that it does, in fact, work.”
In Canada, the use of pharmacogenomic testing has been in cancer centres and hospitals, to a limited degree with high-cost biologic drugs, but hasn’t been used in everyday medications, says Vance. “To date we have not seen any of the payers use pharmacogenomic testing in any substantive way to manage costs, whether public payer or private payer.”
A second phase of the research, which are expected to begin in 2017, will aim to return actionable results to patients and their health-care providers, and will start to assess the value this information providers to benefits providers.