Towards clinical implementation of pharmacogenomics to improve the treatment of people with depression in BC

In Canada, more than 1 in 10 people will suffer a major form of depression at some point in their lives. There are many effective treatments for depression, including drug therapy. Finding a medication that both works and does not cause severe side effects is often a matter of trial-and-error. This may contribute to the high non-adherence rates and, subsequently, to poorer health outcomes and increased costs. An individual’s genetic makeup is thought to be partly related to whether particular drugs work and whether there are side effects with the drug. “Pharmacogenomic” testing, that is, using the patient’s genetic information to determine which particular drug might work best, at the right dose, with the fewest side effects, is a new and promising approach.

In this study, we want to know if pharmacogenomic testing for depression treatment should be routinely used in British Columbia. Through a series of research activities, we will evaluate how much improved health patients might see, as well as whether the testing is good value for money for the health system. As a whole, the project will provide tools for evaluating and addressing societal and economic considerations for the implementation of pharmacogenomics tools into clinical practice.

Dr. Stirling Bryan (Principal Investigator) is a health economist, Professor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute), and President of the BC Academic Health Science Network. Dr. Jehannine Austin (co-Principal Investigator) is a genetic counsellor, Professor in Psychiatry & Medical Genetics at UBC and executive director of the BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services Research Institute. The remaining multi-disciplinary Canadian team has expertise in health policy research, simulation modeling, systematic reviewing, knowledge translation, and includes patient partners.

This 2-year study is funded by Genome BC, Genome Canada, and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.