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Friday, December 2, 2022 - 16:19

Five ways pharmacogenomics testing can help business owners manage costs

Scientest at lab

Pillcheck is automatically included in Empire Life disability benefits

More and more Canadians are taking prescription drugs as chronic disease and mental health problems become more widespread. But drugs don’t always work the way we expect. “About 95% of us have genetic variations that affect our response to a given drug,” says Pillcheck CEO, Veronika Litinski.

“Finding the right medication in the right dosage is costly, time consuming, and can be very dangerous,” says Litinski. It can mean the difference between prolonged suffering—and time off work—and managing a health condition successfully. But prescribing can be a challenge because each person’s unique metabolic profile—informed by their unique genetics—determines which drugs will work and which will not.

Five ways Pillcheck can help save on plan costs

Pillcheck pharmacogenomics testing can help plan sponsors save money in five areas.

Drug plan costs

Drug therapy guided by Pillcheck can save between $350 and $5000 per patient, depending on the diagnosis. Savings come from avoiding the purchase of drugs that will not work for a given individual.

Short-term disability costs

Healthcare providers are two times more efficient in identifying and correcting drug therapy problems. Pillcheck’s impact was evaluated by an independent randomized clinical trial. It showed that Pillcheck analysis helps accelerate recovery from depression/anxiety by 9-13 weeks. The Pillcheck program was used in an independent randomized controlled trial that showed that it accelerates recovery for people with anxiety and depression by ~9-13 weeks. No other provider in Canada has demonstrated impact like this.

“Trying a prescription drug without PGx guidance is a bit of a lottery: only ~35% of people get the right drug in the first try,” says Litinski. “Once a person fails to get relief from the first mental health medication, the chance of recovery diminishes. Having Pillcheck results on hand helps improve patient buy-in for treatment plans.”

Long-term disability costs

By establishing the right drug in the right dose sooner rather than later, the goal is for people to feel better and return to work—avoiding LTD altogether, or reducing duration.

Absenteeism and presenteeism

  • While rising disability costs are attracting a lot of attention, presenteeism costs employers more.
  • 80% of organizations’ economic burden of illness comes from lost productivity associated with presenteeism (being present at work with decreased mental and/or physical functioning, where functioning is the ability to deal with day-to-day tasks).
  • 20% is attributed to absenteeism (being away from work for any reason).
  • Pharmacogenomics testing can also help plan members who are at work despite a mental health issue, but for whom medication is not working. Pillcheck testing can cut short the often-lengthy process of establishing the right medication in the right dose. This in turn can help plan members can feel better sooner, help with productivity, and reduce the risk of disability absence. A healthcare spending account can cover the cost of pharmacogenomics testing

Recruiting costs

  • Finding and keeping talented employees is challenging in today’s market. A 2019 study published in the Harvard Business Review found that 34% of survey respondents left a job, either voluntarily or involuntarily, for mental health reasons. This rose to 50% for millennials and 75% for Generation Z. Fully 20% of all respondents had left a role voluntarily for mental health reasons.
  • By helping plan members who need medication to get the right prescription, employers stand to reduce turnover and save on recruiting costs.

Prescription drugs help millions of Canadians every day—but finding the right drug in the right dose can be costly, time-consuming, and dangerous. According to a study published by the Journal of American Pharmacists Association, patients filling prescriptions at two Toronto pharmacies were offered Pillcheck analysis if they had concerns about their medication. The study showed that 78% of prescriptions needed adjustments.

Pillcheck is automatically included in Empire Life disability benefits. The cost of testing can also be covered by a healthcare spending account or the Empire Life Incidental Health Expense.