Manulife Extended Health Care plan members can now use genetic testing to find most suitable medications
Manulife’s Personalized Medicine program (known industry-wide as pharmacogenomics) is now available for Extended Health Care members with certain qualifying conditions, at no additional cost. This simple, one-time genetic test, done via a saliva sample that takes less than a minute, helps predict how effective certain medications may be based on an individual's genetic makeup. With the results, health care practitioners can tailor treatment plans that are personalized and precise, reducing side effects and increasing the odds of successful patient outcomes.
Genetics plays a significant role in how people respond to drugs and, by examining an individual's DNA, medical professionals can predict and anticipate how a patient may react (or not react) to certain medications and tailor a treatment plan that addresses the unique needs of each patient. Understanding the potential efficacy of a medication beforehand can help eliminate an often painful and drawn-out trial-and-error process while greatly improving patient outcomes and the overall health and wellbeing of Canadians. The test is covered for members and their dependants that have one of the following conditions: a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety; chronic pain; neurological conditions; and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The Personalized Medicine program has been in a pilot stage with select Manulife Group Benefits members since 2021 and the results have been encouraging: 80% of members changed their medications in consultation with their health care providers, and 86% of members reported an improvement in their mental health.
"With pharmacogenomic testing, we can gain valuable insight into how people may breakdown and process certain medications. Testing may help identify some medications that should be avoided or prescribed at a different dose," says Dr. Steve Pomedli, Manulife's medical director of Group Benefits through Cleveland Clinic Canada. "Pharmacogenomic testing is one tool that may help narrow the number of medications to try for certain chronic conditions. Testing does not provide information regarding response to all medications that are currently prescribed, nor responses to dietary and herbal supplements. Once a member receives their test results, they should discuss the best next steps with their health care provider."