The British Columbia Pharmacy Association is expanding its pharmacogenomics project with a second phase that will take samples from 1,000 patients in Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

Those patients will be a mix of sponsored volunteers who will have costs their covered and non-sponsored volunteers who will pay about $2,000 for the testing and analysis.

The goal of the study study is to examine the potential for community pharmacies to provide DNA-specific medication advice and improve drug therapy outcomes for patients.

The project’s first phase involved 33 community pharmacists in British Columbia and collected saliva samples from 200 patients.

Read: First-of-a-kind genomics project in 22 B.C. pharmacies

The second phase, expected to take 18 months, will assess participants’ exomes for genetic variants to see if they’re clinically actionable. The focus for the second phase will be on drugs that treat mental-health, cardiovascular, pain and possibly respiratory illnesses.

“These type of drugs are most likely to be affected by a patient’s DNA,” said Geraldine Vance, chief executive officer of the B.C. Pharmacy Association. “They are also widely used, contribute high costs to public and private payers and have a lot of side effects for patients.”

Funding for the second phase comes from Green Shield Canada.

“At a time of rising drug costs, it makes sense to invest in research that can enhance the prescribing process,” said David Willows, vice-president of strategic market solutions at Green Shield.

In addition to examining the potential for DNA-customized drugs, the association will also use the second phase to determine if the project is economically feasible and if the public would be willing to pay for DNA testing.

“We want to find out which drugs and in what dosage would work best for an individual,” said Vance.

Read: How pharmacy services are catching on with private payers

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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