Is precision medicine the future of healthcare?

This article is co-authored by Mark Gelfer, Family Physician and Hedieh Hafizi, Kinesiologist

Suppose doctors could prescribe medication based on an individual’s genetic makeup. Or maybe they could determine cancer treatment based on the genetic mutation a tumour carries, regardless of its location in the body. Sounds like science fiction, right?

Well, access to these kinds of nuanced approaches to care—often referred to as personalized, individualized or precision medicine—is closer than you think.

What is precision medicine?

Precision medicine is an emerging model of care that aims to better customize the medical decisions, treatments and practices to an individual patient. One major concept of precision medicine is to explore an individual’s genetic makeup through diagnostic testing to determine the best course of treatment for that individual.

This diagnostic testing—referred to as pharmacogenetic testing—is employed for selecting appropriate and optimal therapies based on the context of one’s unique genetic content. This model allows doctors to more accurately predict which treatments and prevention strategies will work for particular people.

What is pharmacogenetic testing?

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to particular drugs. It’s one aspect of precision medicine that has recently been in the spotlight as it has the potential to help physicians identify effective, safe medications and doses for each individual based on their genetic makeup.

Every year in Canada, there are approximately 200,000 severe adverse drug reactions that result in the deaths of between 10,000 and 20,000 people. Pharmacogenetic testing will help medical professionals and pharmacists provide more accurate prescription recommendations to reduce these adverse drug reactions. For example, for patients with a new or existing diagnosis of cardiovascular disease or mental illness, pharmacogenetic testing can help showcase which medication would be most effective with the least side effects.

Genetic testing at Copeman Healthcare

With a focus on innovation and excellence in care, Copeman Healthcare is ready to embrace the precision medicine movement by enhancing primary care with genetic testing offerings. Copeman is pleased to announce that, in addition to pharmacogenetic testing, a full panel of genetic-based testing for reproductive health, breast cancer and hereditary testing will be available in the coming weeks. An email announcement will be sent when the tests are available for Copeman Healthcare clients.

Please note that genetic testing is an optional service at Copeman Healthcare and not included in the Copeman Healthcare client fee.

If you’re interested in pharmacogenetic testing, or any of the other genetic-based tests, it’s important that you speak with your Copeman family physician to learn if the test is appropriate for you.

To learn how precision medicine can benefit you as a Copeman Healthcare client, check out this article on pharmacogenetic testing.