We are all genetically unique and so are our responses to medication, so it should come as no as surprise that a trial and error method is not the most effective way of finding treatment. In response, scientists have developed pharmacogenetics; a genetic test that examines an individual’s responses to drugs and enables medical professionals to prescribe the most appropriate medication first time around.
Taking the form of a simple cheek swab, a pharmacogenetics test determines an individual’s liver enzymes, which reveals whether they are a poor, good or an ultra metabolizer of a certain medication. The test then gives a traffic light style result: red (stay away), yellow (proceed with cation) or green (the medication should have the desired results).
As well as helping mentally ill employees get access to the right medication, early studies show that pharmacogenetics testing increases a patient’s adherence and confidence to their treatment. A 2012 research study conducted by Mayo Clinic found that giving a pharmacogenetic test to patients with depression could significantly reduce depressive symptoms. Leading on front that, a 2013 study in Translational Psychiatry determined that a pharmacogenetic test for employees on at least one of 26 commonly used antidepressant and antipsychotic medications could reduce total health care visits by 69% and disability claims by greater than four-fold, which would save Canadian employers over $14 billion a year in total savings.
All of the studies show that a pharmacogenetics plan or program can drastically improve an employee’s health outcomes. “One study showed that patients on the wrong medication tended to be absent from work three times more than a patient who was a good metaboliser of the medication they were on,” says Zahra Sakkejha, Director of Marketing at Personalized Prescribing Inc. “And, patients who were poor or ultra metabolizers of their medications were four times more likely to be on disability than a patient who was a good metaboliser of their medication.”