Communication and education are the best ways to alleviate
this apprehension. PGx testing is different than genetic testing for
disease risk. A PGx test cannot reveal any disease predisposition
and is not designed to do so. The objective is to test compatibil-ity
of the drug by determining its efficacy and toxicity. The genes
tested are only meant to look at the way the patient processes a
medication, which means the genes tested are involved in drug
response, not diagnosis of the disease state.
In addition, a PGx test is available only on a voluntary consent
basis and with appropriate safeguards in place to codify results and
ensure confidentiality of information. According to Bill S201 (The
Genetic Anti-Discrimination Act passed in April 2017), employers
cannot require employees to undergo a genetic test or disclose the
results of a genetic test as a condition of providing goods or ser-vices
or entering into a contract. This ensures that Canadians are
protected against discrimination.
A PGx service can mitigate employee concerns by offering, as a
first step, a medication review with a pharmacist. There is often a
trusting relationship with pharmacists and this plays an important
role. The pharmacist may conclude that a PGx test can enhance
the employee’s drug compatibility and the employee would then
have comfort in knowing that a trusted professional helped them
make an informed decision.
Technology has advanced dramatically, making PGx testing an
easy and convenient task. The test can be done with a simple non-invasive
cheek swab or spit kit which is mailed to a state-of-the-art
genetic laboratory to have the results processed. Once analyzed, a
drug-compatibility report is sent to the patient’s doctor so medi-cations
can be personalized. The test can be ordered online or over
the phone, and the test result is available within five to seven busi-ness
There has never been a better time to take advantage of the ben-efits
of PGx, and human resource departments can lead the way by
integrating PGx into their employee benefits plans.
Together, science and technology can now predict what medica-tions
will be successful. It’s a helpful resource that can’t be ignored
and will serve to improve the health and wellbeing of employees,
and the productivity of the organization. n
Joseph Ricciuti is co-founder and Board Chair of MHIB (Mental
Health in a Box) Global Inc.
Courtesy of Sanjida Ahmed, Phd., Geneticist, Personalized Prescribing Inc.
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ DECEMBER 2018 ❚ 43