Pharmacogenomics: DNA insights reduce drug and disability costs for businesses

Toronto, ON (April 24, 2017) – Healthy employees are necessary for the health of your business. Prescription medication is the single highest cost of health care to employers in Canada – accounting for more than $10 billion in annual spending, largely for the treatment of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Physicians often need to prescribe medications by trial and error in order to find the most effective treatment for a patient. A more precise approach brings opportunity to reduce drug costs for employers, as well as reduce the amount of time employees spend on disability, also a significant cost to employers. Pharmacogenomics – testing patients to find the right drug for their individual genetic make-up and metabolism – is a growing field and could fundamentally improve the rate at which employees recover from illness and your bottom line.

Studies have shown that it can take up to four attempts for a Canadian to get on an anti-depressant that works for them. According to a recent study by the WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Pharmacogenomics determines which drugs will or won’t work effectively for an individual. Everyone metabolizes drugs differently and a simple genetic test can help avoid adverse side effects, as well use of a drug that is ineffective. One study found ER visits for adverse drug reactions went down 70 percent after a trial of pharmacogenomic testing. Other studies have pointed to significant reduction in medication expenses for companies that conduct pharmacogenomic testing for their employees by getting them on the right treatment faster.

Pharmacogenomics is a stride towards personalized medicine. The Medcan pharmacogenomic test analyzes 22 genes and over 200 medications listed across multiple disease or treatment areas, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, mood and anxiety disorders, hypothyroidism and heart disease. Each medication analyzed is given a green, orange, red indicator based on its fit to the individual’s metabolism. A genetic counsellor provides interpretation of results in the context of the client’s current medications, a follow-up plan and consultation for prescribing physicians.

Approximately 63 per cent of Canadians receive prescription medication from an employer-sponsored drug plan. Medcan CEO Shaun Francis can talk about the need for employers to include pharmacogenomic testing in employee health benefits, and the cost-saving benefits for corporations. “Business leaders wants their employees to be productive and live healthy vibrant lives. Pharmacogenomic testing gives employees insight to manage an illness with the right medication. It’s a critical tool to manage the health, productivity and costs of your workforce,” says Francis.

About Medcan
Medcan provides organizations and individuals with services that inspire them to live well through achieving their very best health – in both body and mind. Medcan offers a comprehensive range of screening and diagnostic assessments, which, in combination with innovative programs tailored to specific needs, are designed to successfully reach improved health outcomes. The Medcan team of 350 staff includes more than 65 physicians. For more information, visit

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