A mid 90’s cult classic, Gattaca depicts a dystopian future in which genetically-enhanced elites rule over lesser “organic” humans. Some 25 years after its release, the scientific advancements underpinning Gattaca’s theme are quickly becoming reality.
One such example is pharmacogenetics, the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This new field combines pharmacology and genomics to develop medications tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.
Currently available drugs are “one size fits all,” but they don’t work the same way for everyone. This makes it hard to predict who’ll benefit from a medication, and who will experience negative side effects. But pharmacogenomics is now allowing the development of bespoke drugs to treat a wide range of illnesses.
Plan sponsors and insurers are increasingly wading into the waters of pharmacogenetic testing. In 2017, Sun Life partnered with the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health for a pilot project that offered pharmacogenetic testing to plan members on disability leave due to a mental injury. After seeing very positive results, it embedded pharmacogenetic testing into its disability management toolkit.