New study highlights value of pharmacogenetic-guided drug treatment

The results of a new study highlight the value of tailoring drug treatment to an individual’s genetic makeup.

The pharmacogenetics clinical trial study by Green Shield Canada and the health benefits management division of HBM+ followed more than 200 outpatients who had been diagnosed with major mental-health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups — a control group, where drug optimization was based solely on a pharmacist’s clinical judgement, and an experimental group, where a pharmacist delivered pharmacogenetics-guided treatment.

Participants in the pharmacogenetics-guided group reported greater improvements over a six-month period across a range of clinical outcome measures. Specifically, patient health questionnaire scores showed improvements of 36 per cent and 18 per cent from baseline depression severity in the pharmacogenetics and control group, respectively.

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Similarly, the outcomes for anxiety and disability were around two times greater in the pharmacogenetics-related group compared with the control group — generalized anxiety disorder scale results improved by 41 per cent in the pharmacogenetics group compared to 23 per cent for the control group, while Sheehan disability scores jumped by 44 per cent in the pharmacogenetics group versus 18 per cent in the control group.

“We undertook this study because there were substantial gaps in knowledge regarding the downstream impact of pharmacogenomic testing on patients, but the results confirm that it can be a difference-maker for those suffering with major mental-health conditions,” said David Willows, executive vice-president of digital, innovation and brand experience at Green Shield Canada, in a press release.

“Moving forward, the study data presents a compelling picture of the important role that pharmacogenomics can play in optimizing drug therapy and helping pharmacists and physicians to improve patient health.”

Read: Pharmacogenetic testing a growing area as pilot projects, research get underway