new research from the university of b.c. shows that a type of genetic testing could benefit patients with depression, and aid physicians in prescribing the most effective medications.
the bottom line could be better outcomes for patients with major depressive disorders, and substantial savings for provincial health, said dr. shahzad ghanbarian, lead author of the study and a researcher and health economist at ubc’s centre for clinical epidemiology and evaluation.
linda riches, 67, was one of three patients who took part in the study, was prescribed at least a dozen antidepressants, starting in her 30s, but they failed to help. her depression affected her work as a teacher, and her family life. years went by before one medication turned out to be the right fit.
“if you’ve been off because of a mental health issue, people just don’t want to talk about it. so they ignore it. nobody wants to come and say, ‘is there anything i can do to help you?’” she said from her home near prince george.
linda riches tried at least 12 different antidepressants before one worked for her, but she says dna testing that is publicly funded could help alleviate that type of trial-and-error process so people don’t have to keep struggling while trying so many medications that don’t work for them.
the canadian press
only 40 to 60 per cent of patients respond to the antidepressant initially prescribed, said ghanbarian.
“around 27 per cent of patients experience side effects they can’t tolerate, including side effects that lead to hospitalization. if their condition wont get better, they try another one, and another one. eventually they may give up. it’s frustrating for the patient, and challenging for the prescriber,” said ghanbarian.
according to the study published in the
canadian medical association journal,
pharmacogenomic testing, which analyzes how your body metabolizes medications, could save the health system $956 million over 20 years.