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Medicine Tailored to Patients

Medicine doesn’t get any more personal than this.

A new genetic testing service is now being offered in North Bay to allow what pharmacist Richard Procunier calls “precision medicine” to clients.

“We want to bring personalized medicine to not only North Bay, but to Canada,” Procunier, owner of Northern Shores Pharmacy, said Wednesday at the launch of Personamed.

The program takes DNA samples from clients to ensure the medications they may be receiving will actually provide the desired results.

“Take codeine, for example,” Procunier said. “Some people come in with a prescription for Tylenol 3s, and some get a bang for their buck, while for others it doesn’t work at all.”

The DNA test, he said, will actually alert the pharmacist to medications that might not be effective.

That, he said, is particularly useful for some, such as medications for depression or anxiety, that require several weeks of use to begin to show accurate results.

“It will save time and money,” he said.

The process is fairly new, Procunier said. He became aware of it during his fourth year at university, and was excited by its promise of providing a “better health outcome” for patients.

And while a similar program is being offered at some clinics in Toronto and other large Canadian cities, this is the first time a community-based pharmacy in this country has signed on for it.

“A retail setting was very attractive for us,” said Morgan Donaldson of OneOme, a Minnesota-based pharmacogenetic testing company which developed the test with the Mayo Clinic.

Donaldson said the DNA sample is collected in North Bay, then sent to the testing company which can turn the results around in four days. It is then made available to the pharmacists via a secure website.

DNA samples will identify any major drug-gene interactions, showing both those medications which will be effective and which won’t, she said.

The sample is tested against 340 commonly prescribed drugs, she said.

“It’s incredible sensitive,” Donaldson said.

The DNA sample kit costs patients $349, but the pharmacy is now looking for 200 volunteers to take part in a research study. The volunteers will not have to pay for the tests.

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