Q: What is Pillcheck?
A: Variations in your DNA determine the way you process medications—whether you will benefit from taking a medication, or if it may potentially cause negative side effects. Pharmacogenetics (PGx) is the study of inherited genetic makeup that affects your response to medications. Pillcheck identifies these variations to assess whether a medication is likely to be safe and effective and provides optimal dosage recommendations. Your report will list your body’s predicted response to all Pillcheck-covered medications and can be regularly updated.
Q: Why should a PGx-trained pharmacist review my Pillcheck report?
A: To get the most out of Pillcheck, we recommend a review by a PGx-trained pharmacist, who will write a Pharmacist’s Opinion Letter for your prescribing doctor. To facilitate this process, please provide us with a list of your medications. You may also share your report with a pharmacist of your choice.
Q: Should I continue my medications while waiting for my test results?
A: You should continue taking your medications as prescribed, unless your doctor suggests otherwise.
Q: Which medications does Pillcheck cover?
A: Pillcheck covers more than 75 commonly prescribed medications in several treatment areas, including cardiac and gastrointestinal conditions, mental health, pain management and oncology. Genetic testing for medications treating these conditions is recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
, European Medicines Agency (EMA)
, Health Canada
, Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC)
, and Dutch Pharmacogenetics Working Group (DPWG)
. View a full list of covered medications here
Q: My medications are not on Pillcheck. Why should I order it?
A: Pillcheck provides proactive insights for your future medication needs even if your current prescriptions are not included. With Pillcheck, healthcare practitioners can better select medications matching your pharmacogenetic profile.
Q: How much does Pillcheck cost?
A: The Pillcheck medication optimization service costs $500 (plus applicable taxes). Check with your employer to see if it is a covered benefit in your plan. Pillcheck is a permitted Health Spending Account claim and is also an eligible expense for income tax deduction.
Q: How does the process work?
A: The test is easy and painless. The kit consists of a swab, which looks like an oversized Q-tip, that you rub against the inner surfaces of both cheeks to collect a sample of cheek cells. DNA taken from cheek cells is just as viable as DNA from a blood sample. You only need to ensure that you do not eat, drink or smoke for at least one hour before collecting the sample. When your report is ready, you will receive a link to our secure website portal, where you can download it. You can share it with healthcare practitioners of your choice.
Q: Why do I need to sign the consent form?
A: Pillcheck analyzes specific genes involved in drug metabolism—only a very small part of your DNA. Your informed consent is required for all tests that involve DNA collection in order to ensure that you understand the procedure and its limitations.
Q: Does Pillcheck test for any medical conditions?
A: Pillcheck analyzes only the specific genes involved in drug metabolism and does not assess your risk for disease.
Q: How can I ensure that my test results are kept private?
A: You have full ownership and control over your Pillcheck test results. We cannot share your personal data without your prior authorization as per our Informed Consent Form. Only you can decide who has access to your report, and you can revoke access at any time or request the deletion of your information. Should you wish to remove all records of your data, we will promptly comply with your request. Your individual results will not be shared with your insurance company or employer.
Q: What happens to my sample?
A: The lab extracts a small amount of DNA from your completed cheek swab. This is analyzed and the results used to generate a personalized report listing your body’s predicted response to all Pillcheck-covered medications. Once the test is complete, any remaining DNA is destroyed after 30 days.
Q: Why is Pillcheck not covered by my provincial health plan?
A: Drug response testing is not covered by provincial health plans because it is new to the market. Reimbursement will be determined once the demand for these services is assessed. If you have private insurance coverage, the test can be reimbursed through your Health Spending Account (HSA).