PILLCHECK: EVIDENCE-BASED PRESCRIBING FOR YOU
AND YOUR PATIENTS

Based on the science of Pharmacogenetics (PGx), Pillcheck helps support a safe and effective match of prescription drugs for the unique genetic profile of each patient. We only include medications in our panel that have established guidelines provided by regulatory and clinical bodies, such as Health Canada, the FDA, and CPIC. As new information becomes available we update reports, providing lifetime value for your patients.

Our digital platform makes precision medicine available for patients and physicians no matter the location or setting. There’s no special software required for practice use and our platform is PIPEDA and HIPPA-compliant. The Pillcheck service is also compliant with genetic non-discrimination legislation, such as Bill S-201 in Canada.

Our guide to the practical considerations around PGx tests and decision support tools for clinicians was recently published in the Genomic Medicine, a Nature Research journal.

Pillcheck predicts an individual’s response to most commonly prescribed drugs in key treatment areas.

THE IMPACT OF PGx IS ALREADY WELL-ACCEPTED IN MANY CLINICAL SETTINGS. THE BENEFITS OF PILLCHECK INCLUDE:

Drug Side Effects

Insight for you and your patients through the assessment of drug side effect risks, good for the patient’s lifetime.

Benefit of Medication Treatment

Patients achieve the full benefit of medication treatment sooner by avoiding medications that are likely to be ineffective.

Expert Review

Pillcheck includes an expert review by a clinical pharmacist to facilitate the coordination of care.

Personalized Results

Our genetic test is optimized to ensure a high level of sensitivity across various ethnicities, key to creating accurate results.

Recommendations

Recommendations help decrease the time spent managing refractory patients.

Physician and Patient Dialogue

Supports physician and patient dialogue on individualized treatment plans and adherence.

PILLCHECK IN PRACTICE: SEAMLESS AND SIMPLE FOR YOU AND YOUR PATIENTS

The Pillcheck platform is unique: It securely connects physicians, patients, and pharmacists while supporting information sharing based on patient consent.

Private plans are embracing Pillcheck as a paid benefit and as an integral part of proactive health, absenteeism and disability management because it helps patients and their physicians understand why previous treatments may have failed. Plus it’s an innovative benefit that unlocks a lifetime of value with patient results that are updated with the latest information.

Many plans require a requisition form to be submitted for plan member coverage. You can download a form here.

What do doctors and patients say about Pillcheck?

“My patient had a heart attack and was discharged from the hospital on the usual medications – aspirin, betablockers, and statins plus several others. He was fatigued and depressed and literally unable to get out of bed so I had him complete the Pillcheck test which indicated he was a poor metabolizer of the betablocker. His cardiologist immediately switched him to another class of heart drug and his symptoms improved completely within a month!”

Dr. Anna Sylwestrowicz, Victoria BC

What do doctors and patients say about Pillcheck?

“When my son was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, we were nervous about putting him on medication. The psychiatrist used my son’s Pillcheck to choose an antidepressant that was a good fit for his genetic profile. It was reassuring to know that my son has a low risk of side effects to his prescription and so he was willing to give it a try. It’s been several months now and he is feeling so much better.”

-Pillcheck Customer

What are the risks and regulatory considerations if I bring Pillcheck to my practice?

WHAT CAN YOUR PATIENTS EXPECT?

In a recently published study involving 100 patients, 75% of prescriptions changed with insight from Pillcheck results. We typically see 50% or more of patients receiving immediately actionable recommendations.

The full text of the study is available here

Switch Drug
60%
Increase Monitoring
22%
Adjust Dosage
13%
Discontinue Drug
4%

OUR EXPERTS

Our team of expert Geneticists and Bioinformaticians keep you up to date on the latest trends in the Pharmacogenetics field.

Considering stopping Zoloft or Zyprexa due to side effects? PGx testing can help you continue treatment and reduce the risk of relapse

Key points to remember:If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with psychotic depression, treatment may involve... read more

Antidepressants not working: four alternative medications your doctor should consider

The treatment and diagnosis of mental health conditions is posing challenges for family physicians. Patients with symptoms of anxiety... read more

Preparing for cancer surgery: what you need to know to maximize the success of your treatment

A cancer diagnosis hits hard, but despite the stress all patients must learn about their treatment options in order... read more

Arthritis pain? The Best Meds for Relief Are…

What all osteoarthritis and arthritis sufferers know is that this condition can severely affect your ability to lead an... read more

DNA Test Now Personalizes Your Meds, Featured on Global News

About half of all prescription medications are ineffective. You read that right. HALF of us are taking meds that don’t... read more

Comparison of antidepressants’ effectiveness and side effects – pharmacogenetics to assist in therapy selection

Reviewed by Alison Wong, RPH.Patients suffering from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions are... read more

FAQ

Q: What is pharmacogenetics?

A: Pharmacogenetics (PGx) is the study of how genes affect a person's response to medications. Over 90% of North Americans have at least one genetic variation affecting their response to medications. A drug that works for some people might have a different effect in others. This can range from a lack of drug efficacy to fatal adverse drug reactions. 

Pharmacogenetic testing is becoming routine at leading healthcare centers in the United States, including Vanderbilt Healthcare system, University of Florida, Mayo and Cleveland clinics. PGx is also used by a growing number of research hospitals, such as CAMH, SickKids, Montreal Heart Institute, and London Health Sciences.

Pillcheck helps doctors determine the correct medication and dose based on each patient’s metabolism, resulting in improved efficacy of medications and reduced risk of adverse effects. This precision medicine approach reduces patient recovery time, improves drug safety, and informs treatment strategies, especially for individuals on multiple medications.

Q: What is Pillcheck?

A: Pillcheck medication optimization service includes:

  1. Pharmacogenetic test that uses a simple, non-invasive saliva cheek swab to collect DNA
  2. Personalized Pillcheck Report flagging medications of higher risk and listing predicted response to over 178 commonly prescribed medications for a wide variety of conditions. Each page includes links to the original reference sources.
  3. Review of the patient’s medications and professional opinion letter prepared by a pharmacogenetics-trained clinical consulting pharmacist summarizing PGx considerations for current and future therapy

Pillcheck is a pharmacogenetics service that supports physicians in deciding which medications to select or avoid, and assists with selection of optimal therapeutic strategies. It enables service requisition, bioinformatics analysis, and secure sharing of reports according to the highest standard in health data management.

The Pillcheck recommendations are based on drug monographs provided by FDA, Health Canada, as well as guidelines developed by the Clinical Pharmacogenetic Implementation Consortium , which is an international group of leading clinical pharmacologists, physicians, and genomics experts.

The platform provides life-long value to individuals because each Pillcheck customer receives semi-annually updates covering more medications according to the expanding clinical guidelines.

Q: How do physicians use Pillcheck in practice?

A: Physicians already take into consideration many factors, including patient age, weight, liver and kidney function when making prescribing decisions. A patient’s pharmacogenetic profile is another factor to consider as drug-gene interactions are similar to drug-drug interactions and may significantly affect a patient’s response to treatment and the risk of side effects. Knowing which medications pose an increased risk of side effects at standard dose can help prescribers to adjust dose within accepted therapeutic ranges or select alternative medication.

Pillcheck results are provided as additional references to support physician’s prescribing decisions. It is up to the physician’s professional judgment how best to apply this information in the overall context of a patient’s medical conditions, history, and other medical data available to the treating physician.

Q: Which patients can benefit from Pillcheck?

A: While everybody may benefit from Pillcheck at some point in their lives, the people who are helped most immediately are:

  1. Patients taking 3 or more medications, of which one is on the Pillcheck list
  2. Patients starting known “high-risk medications”, such as opioids or antidepressants
  3. Switching medications or having dosage adjustments
  4. Experiencing unwanted side effects and/or low clinical response
  5. Fearful of taking medications due to risk of side effects or complications.
Q: Where is the test performed?

A: Cheek swab sample collection can be completed at the patient’s home and mailed to the lab via a prepaid return envelope.

Pillcheck samples are currently processed at the Dynacare lab in Laval, Quebec.  This lab has the following accreditations:

  1. ISO 15189:  International accreditation for Medical laboratories
  2. COLA is a medical lab accreditation demonstrating compliance with CLIA requirements (US federal regulations governing the operation of medical laboratories). www.cola.org. Of note, CLIA is an American certification that is needed only for serving US customers, and CLIA does not apply in Canada.

Pillcheck bioinformatics system was independently validated by several clinical diagnostic laboratories in US, Canada and EU.

Q: How do I know that information is kept private?

A: Individuals have full ownership and control over their Pillcheck test results. Personal data is not shared without prior authorization as described in the Informed Consent Form. Only the individual can decide who has access to the report and can revoke access at any time or request deletion of the information.

Privacy of genetic and personal data is protected by the Bill S201, HIPAA and PIPEDA regulations. Pillcheck service is fully compliant with these regulations. Except as expressly set forth in the patient’s Informed Consent, results will not be shared with any third party, including insurance company and employer.

For more details please refer to our Privacy Policy and Consent Form.

Q: Will it impact an individual’s insurance coverage?

A: Health benefits and insurance companies may cover the cost of Pillcheck service as an optional benefit. Pillcheck results do not impact coverage decisions.

Pillcheck does NOT assess any genes related to disease risk or disease diagnostics and does not affect patients’ insurance. Only specific, well-identified DNA variations related to drug response are analyzed by Pillcheck. Once the test is complete, any remaining DNA is destroyed after 30 days.

For more details please refer to our Privacy Policy and Consent Form.

Q: How to get access to results?

A: Healthcare providers can access Pillcheck reports through the secure Pillcheck Portal. Please contact info@pillcheck.ca to request access. Report sharing is governed by the patient’s consent.

Q: How is Pillcheck different from other pharmacogenetics testing providers?

 A: Local: Pillcheck tests are performed in Canada, and all patient and genomic data is stored locally in the HIPAA compliant secure data centers.

Broad clinical relevance: By including validated clinically-relevant genes, Pillcheck supports evidence-base prescribing for mental health, pain management, neurology, cardiology, gastroenterology, and many other conditions.

Ease of use for clinicians:

  • Pillcheck includes online review of patient medications by a licensed clinical pharmacist who is specially trained in pharmacogenetics.
  • Pertinent findings summarized in a concise Pharmacist Opinion Letter and include actionable insights on therapy adjustment for consideration by prescribing physicians.
  • Physicians who sign up for a secure, web-based account in the Pillcheck Portal can access the full detailed report for patients who grant access via their Consent form. NO special software, licensing, or EMR integration required.

High accuracy: The Pillcheck genotyping panel is optimized to maximize sensitivity and specificity, and to ensure accurate results for ethnically diverse population in Canada by including multiple ethnic-specific alleles. 
Genes Alleles

Q: How much does Pillcheck cost?

A: The Pillcheck test retails for $499 (plus applicable taxes) and can be used for the patient’s lifetime to improve treatment efficacy and reduce the risk of side-effects. Drug response testing is not currently covered by provincial health plans because it is new to the Canadian market. Reimbursement by the provincial health plan will be determined over time once the demand for these services is assessed.

Other options for coverage:

  • Leading disability insurance providers cover the cost of Pillcheck for selected individuals on disability suffering from mental health or chronic pain.
  • Some benefits plans cover the cost of Pillcheck as a covered health benefit to members.
  • Pillcheck is an eligible medical expense for income tax deduction and can be paid through Health Spending Account (HSA).
Q: How does Pillcheck work in disability?

Pillcheck may be available to a person on a disability claim through his or her disability management provider. Studies have shown that pharmacogenetics can support recovery and the successful return to work.

✔ The disability case manager facilitates the Pillcheck requisition for the claimant, pays for the cost, and sends a copy of the Pillcheck Pharmacist Opinion Letter to the claimant’s physician.

✔ Pillcheck results are provided as additional insights to support a physician’s prescribing decisions. It is between the patient and the physician’s professional judgment how best to apply this information in the overall context of a patient’s medical conditions and history, and other medical data available.

✔ Pillcheck results have no impact on drug or disability insurance claims.

✔ Participation is purely voluntary and subject to the claimant’s informed consent.

✔ The case manager has access to the Pharmacist Opinion Letter summary and has no access to the claimant’s detailed genetic results. Data access is explained in the informed consent form.

The person on disability can contact his or her case manager to find out about eligibility for Pillcheck coverage.