The House of Commons has recently passed legislation, Bill S-201, which will prohibit life insurance companies from accessing an applicant’s genetic test results. Bill S-201 is a Private Member’s Bill that makes it a criminal offence to request access to genetic testing results for commercial purposes, including the underwriting of life and living benefits insurance in Canada.
The Distinction between Pharmacogenetics and Genetic Testing
There is an important difference between Pharmacogenetics and Genetic Testing. Genetic Testing is a procedure that investigates the possible presence of a genetic disease or mutant forms of genes associated with increased risk of developing genetic disorders. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition, or help to determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder such as cancer.
Pharmacogenetics (PGx) provides information on how a person metabolizes and reacts to certain medications based on that individual’s genes.
- It is well known that 95% of people have a genetic variation affecting drug response.
- Knowing what effect a medication will have on a patient, even prior to prescribing, enables the physician to select the most effective medication and dosage, ensuring the best possible treatment for the patient, thus potentially reducing drug waste and ultimately resulting in better health outcomes.
- PGx testing does not include disease risk analysis.
GeneYouIn and Pillcheck
Pillcheck is a branded drug optimization service promoted to individuals via their health benefit plan. The sole purpose of Pillcheck is to improve the safety and effectiveness of medication treatments. Pillcheck only tests for specific genetic variations in specific genes responsible for drug metabolism, and is not capable of assessing disease risk. Before ordering a test, GeneYouIn’s clients are required to complete a Consent Form. It is important to emphasize that the decision to share information from the Pillcheck Service is, at all times, a decision that is taken by the individual client.
GeneYouIn provides the Pillcheck Service according to best practices codified in The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which include the following:
- Limited collection of data: only specific, well-identified DNA variations related to drug response are analyzed by the lab;
- Once testing is complete, any remaining DNA is destroyed;
- Data sharing is controlled by individual consent: i.e., the consumer controls with whom to share their Report;
Protection of privacy: both DNA sample and Report are identified by a unique barcode, which means no personal information is visible on the Report.