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Pharmacogenetics and Benefits
Jan 15th, 2016
Pharmacogenetics is the study of inherited genetic differences in drug metabolic pathways which can affect responses to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic effect as well as adverse effects. Test results help identify which medications will be the most effective as well as which frequency it should be taken to maximize the metabolic process and minimize adverse side effects.
How is the test done?
The testing process is fairly simple, a non-invasive cheek swab extracts cells containing DNA and is sent to a lab for analysis. The results are then shared with the prescribing physician who then utilizes the information to ensure the best treatment protocol is taken.
So what does this mean for plan sponsors?
Increased efficacy of drugs will improve the Return on Investment of benefit programs through reduced wastage, improved adherence through lower adverse side effects, stricter access to more expensive therapies, and increased productivity of the worker.
How is a Pharmacogenomics program delivered?
Organizations can enrol their workforce to allow participants to sign up voluntarily or on a mandatory basis. Kits are shipped to patients to self-administer the swab, complete a prescription drug history and return to the service provider. A report is generated and available to the patient who can share with their physician and pharmacists. Changes to the prescriptions can then be made to increase efficacy of treatment.
Some concerns arise around the use of the data collected in the testing. Genetic information will be owned by the patient and provided exclusively to them. The testing does not assess any genes for disease risk or diagnostics. Providers utilize state of the art data encryption to ensure security.
What are the costs?
Since this is a new to market service, costs are significant. Typically the costs are $400 to $500 per patient.
What's the ROI?
As this is still a burgeoning business, early data is showing a 4x return on the costs through optimization of prescription drugs, reduced disability and absenteeism and increased productivity.