Okanagan residents can now take a genetics test to improve the effectiveness of their medication treatments.
“Personalized medicine has now advanced to the stage where one simple test can reveal how your body will uniquely respond to medicines you take, based on genetics,” said Kelowna pharmacist Cam Bonnell, with Lakeside Pharmacy.
Lakeside is one of 60 pharmacies across B.C. that have begun to administer the test service called myDNA.
It involves having a cheek swab sample taken, which is sent to an accredited lab for DNA sequencing, a process that takes three to four weeks.
Clients then meet with their pharmacist to discuss the results and learn how their medication can be tailored to their genetic profile for the maximum results and to minimize negative side-effects.
Mark Chambers, also a pharmacist with Lakeside Pharmacy in Kelowna, said the testing is called pharmacogenomics, an option offered by different companies made possible by advances in DNA technology.
Chambers says genetic profiling determines how your body processes certain medications. Some process medications too quickly with reduced benefits, others process too slowly increasing the risk of side-effects.
“It is the way of the future, the direction pharmacies are going,” Chambers said. “The end result is a customized medication treatment tailored to your genetic makeup.”
Chambers said currently eligible for pharmacogenomic testing include antidepressant, antipsychotic, blood pressure, heart, blood thinner, reflex and pain medications.
The cost is $149 for a single medication test, and $199 for multiple medications.
Chambers said about 80 pharmacies have signed on to the testing across Canada, leaving B.C. with 75 per cent of the national pharmacy participation rate.
“That may reflect the larger aging population in this province, the baby boomers moving to B.C. to retire,” Chambers said.
“We are anticipating a lot of interest in this.”
To find out which pharmacies are offering the myDNA test, visit www.mydna.life an click on “Find a Pharmacy.”
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