Pharmacogentic testing to Improve Patient Mental Health Outcomes During a Pandemic | A publication of The Ontario Pharmacists Association
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety, and depression across Canada and worldwide. In turn, healthcare providers are experiencing a surge in patients seeking help for mental health conditions and are tasked with ensuring that any drug treatments provided are both efficacious and safe/tolerable for individuals. This can be a challenge at the best of times, because as many as two thirds of patients prescribed psychiatric medications fail their first treatment due to large individual variations in individual response. In the article, Inagene consulting pharmacist Jennifer Pastore explores the genetic aspects of variation in individual response to drugs, and the value of pharmacogenetic testing as a decision tool to guide prescribing in mental health, including three specific impacts:
- Improved symptoms, and increased response and remission rates: After 8 weeks, patients using genetic testing to guide treatment experienced 50% increased remission and 30% increased response. Greater than 4-fold improvement in depressive symptoms and time to symptom relief.
- Decreased side effects: Side effects were reduced by 60%
- >$1000/year reduction in medication costs per patient: Genetic testing saved an average of $1036 per patient per year in medication costs. Pharmacy cost savings averaged $2774.53 for patients who were changed to a PGx congruent medication regimen, compared to those who were not. In addition, medication adherence improved by 17% and polypharmacy was reduced by 20%
- Decreased strain on the healthcare system/healthcare costs: Healthcare costs increase more than $5000/year when patients take medications that are incompatible with their genetic profile. A retrospective study demonstrated that patients who had not undergone genetic testing/were using medications that should have been avoided based on their genetic profile had a 69% increase in total healthcare visits, 4 times the number of disability claims, and 3-fold increase in medical absences
Download the full article on pharmacogenetics and mental health.