Supporting Drug Therapy Decisions for Family Physicians

June 17, 2015

Vancouver, BC – A new research project led by Dr. Martin Dawes at the University of British Columbia (UBC) will apply a genomic approach to screen for 33 markers in five genes of a patient’s DNA that are linked to potentially clinically actionable gene-drug associations. Called The Implementation of Pharmacogenomics in Primary Care in British Columbia, this novel project is valued at over $720,000, and is being funded through Genome BC’s User Partnership Program, Rx&D’s Health Research Foundation and other partners. The project will also link in with TELUS Health, the largest electronic medical record (EMR) vendor in Canada

The project has two components: firstly, the development of a suite of genotype-based medication logic trees that provide options for drug therapy for ten common conditions including depression, hypertension, high cholesterol, gout and asthma; and, secondly, to conduct a pilot project with five Family Physicians’ offices, one pharmacist and 250 patients to determine the feasibility and usability of a saliva sample collection, a genetic test, and the medication decision support tool.

Over 200,000 severe adverse drug events, costing upwards of $14 billion, place a significant burden on the Canadian healthcare system annually. Family Physicians deliver roughly 85% of healthcare, and issue the majority of prescriptions. These prescriptions are intended to help their patients but currently prescribers are, in some instances, unable to predict whether an individual patient will benefit as intended from the drug therapy, or if they may suffer potentially serious, unexpected adverse drug events.

The practices of Family Physicians could benefit from the development of a decision support tool using the information in existing EMRs, a tool that uses a patient’s genetic differences to avoid a potential adverse drug responses.

“Genomics applications to personal healthcare is a new tool for clinicians and patients,” says Dr. Martin Dawes, Head, Department of Family Practice at UBC. “Our group is helping translate this technology to improve health care by offering genetic evidence that provides information for physicians about what drugs are safe and effective for patients.

"TELUS Health shares the vision of Genome BC, Rx&D, the Personalized Medicine Initiative and others who are investing in solutions to improve healthcare outcomes, improve patient experience and reduce healthcare costs through the use of technology. This partnership brings us one step closer to achieving our goal of measuring health outcomes and the material difference health IT can make for patients by making information available at the point of care," adds Paul Lepage, President, TELUS Health. 

“With the ongoing cost pressures on the health care system, funding efficiencies and savings while improving patient outcomes is paramount,” says Dr. Alan Winter, President and CEO of Genome BC. “If we can avoid even a percentage of adverse drug events and subsequent hospitalizations, then this work is a success.”

“The Rx&D Health Research Foundation is proud to support projects that contribute directly to the quality of life that Canadians enjoy and cherish,” says Mel Cappe, Chair of the Rx&D Health Research Foundation. “The Personalized Medicine Initiative is a great example of research being done in Canada that will contribute to better health solutions for Canadians.”


About Genome British Columbia:
Genome British Columbia is a catalyst for the life sciences cluster on Canada’s West Coast, and manages a cumulative portfolio of over $710M in 254 research projects and science and technology platforms. Working with governments, academia and industry across sectors such as forestry, fisheries, agriculture, environment, bioenergy, mining and human health, the goal of the organization is to generate social and economic benefits for British Columbia and Canada. Genome BC is supported by the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada through Genome Canada and Western Economic Diversification Canada and more than 300 international public and private co-funding partners.

Jennifer Boon
Communications Manager, Sectors
Genome BC
Mobile: 778-327-8374

 Each year in Canada, there are approximately 200,000 severe adverse drug events, claiming 10,000 to 22,000 lives, and costing $13.7 to $17.7 billion.
 Primary and community care is a major component of the British Columbia (BC) health system, delivering over thirty million health care services each year to BC’s 4.5 million residents.
 The partnership is composed of:
o The user, TELUS Health, the largest EMR vendor in Canada
o GenXys, a BC limited company formed to help create and license the TreatGx decision support tool
o The academic partner, UBC’s Department of Family Practice, an interprofessional academic and clinical group with expertise in primary care, clinical research, informatics, and decision support
o British Columbia Personalized Medicine Initiative (PMI), a not-for-profit limited corporation with academic and industry expertise that actively promotes the implementation of personalized medicine initiatives in BC
o The Health Research Foundation / Rx&D
o A group of pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca Canada Inc., GSK, Janssen Inc., Merck, Pfizer Canada Inc. and Roche.
o The Health Design Lab at Emily Carr University

Back to Listing


HRF Medal of Honour Awards Gala

Register here for the 2018 HRF Medal of Honour Awards Gala in partnership with Prix Galien and Research Canada: An Alliance for Health Discovery, on November 20th, 2018.