How do you predict which medication can work best for you?
For many Canadians, finding the right medication is a long, and often frustrating, process of trial and error, especially for those dealing with chronic pain and mental-health issues. Fortunately, pharmacogenetic testing (PGx) may help people feel better sooner. The test uses DNA to determine how an individual will metabolize more than 200 medications. Over 98% of individuals carry some genetic variant(s) that are known to impact their response to medication.
How can a pharmacogenetic test help someone struggling to manage their depression?
Pharmacogenetic testing has helped many Canadians feel better, sooner. For example, Susan Fisher*, a 38-year old mother from Alberta had struggled to manage her depression for more than 15 years. She had been prescribed 10 different medications, each one with side-effects, including hand tremors, insomnia, and severe headaches.
This is not an uncommon experience for many who are trialing different antidepressants.
Her pharmacist suggested she take a pharmacogenetics test to help find out which antidepressant is most likely to work for her based on her genetics. She ordered an Inagene pharmacogenetics test kit (link to shop page) and received a detailed report with valuable insights a few weeks later.
The test showed she had a gene variant that caused her to react negatively to SSRIs, which are typically prescribed for depression. Her depression was thus treatment-resistant to SSRIs. Sharing these insightful results with her doctor allowed her to get switched to a new class of drugs and for the first time in two years, her depression lifted and she was able to return to work.
Is pharmacogenetics becoming common-practice in Canada?
Pharmacogenetics is slowly being incorporated into the Canadian healthcare system. More pharmacists are starting to recommend pharmacogenetic testing to patients. However, you do not need a pharmacist’s or physician's referral to order a test. Learn more about the power of pharmacogenetics here.
Read more about Susan’s story and our full feature in The Globe and Mail here:
*Name has been changed