Industry Opinion Survey Report on Pharmacogenomics


The “Industry Opinion Survey” focused on evaluating the current industry practice of recording employee absences and disability from medication related issues and sheds light on the awareness of available tools to improve employee health and productivity. The survey also examined the interest in Pharmacogenomics to address medication related absenteeism, reduce the period of short and long-term disability and to effectively return and keep employees at work.

The scope of pharmacogenomics evolved remarkably in the last couple of years. In the past, most pharmacogenomic studies only identified benefits using a narrow perspective—studying one gene and one drug in isolation. Today, it has morphed into a more dynamic science as panels of pharmacogenomic genes and potential drugs are studied together. This is positive news for people suffering from medication issues. There is now more reliability from an efficacy and side effects perspectives, after analyzing the individual’s unique genetic make-up.

Our previous opinion survey conducted in 2015 with the HRPA showed that 32% of HR professionals were interested in implementing a pharmacogenomic test within their benefit plan. Today the interest has increased to 63%. Certainly, the awareness of pharmacogenomics has influenced their opinion.

Below are the findings of the Industry Opinion Survey and our observations:

Survey Findings

  1. 48% of the organization surveyed, measure casual absence but 66% do not record average duration period lost due to short/ long term disability
  2. 93% of organization surveyed, do not consider the impact of adverse drug effects or ineffective drugs causing absence from work
  3. 69% of survey respondents are aware that genetic make-up can affect an individual’s response to drugs, only 7% of the organization offer a drug evaluation plan that leads to pharmacogenomic test
  4. 63% of the respondents would like to consider implementing a drug evaluation plan leading to pharmacogenomic test

The aggregated Industry Opinion Survey results are shown below-


Industry Perspectives

There are published papers referring information on the effectiveness of pharmacogenomic tests among the workforces, such as-

  • A pharmacogenomic test has the most impact for employees who struggle with mental health and chronic pain, where the traditional approach is months-years of trial and error, lost productivity, and disability1.
  • For employees on psychiatric medications, cost-savings both to payers and employees can amount to approximately $3,988/person/year, as supported by the literature2.
  • A pharmacogenomic test could save Canadian employers over $14 billion a year in total savings by 4-fold decrease in disability 3, 4, 5.

Our Experience

Our experience suggests that the apprehensions about genetic tests are one of the greatest challenges faced by employers and disability managers. Therefore, more information and education on “The Genetic Anti-Discriminatory Law” could help creating awareness among the employees. A personalized drug evaluation (PDE) by a Pharmacist could be the first step to address the challenge by pre-empting the need for a Pharmacogenomics test until medication options and privacy/confidentiality are reviewed with qualified professional like a pharmacist. This may minimize the anxiety and worry about a genetic test and become more useful in mitigating the impact of medications on health and productivity. The test may not reduce the drug cost but would certainly reduce the practice of polypharmacy (multiple medications) and increase employee productivity with effective medications and least side effects resulting efficiency in workplace.

At Personalized Prescribing, we offer a pharmacist-guided drug evaluation service. We recently completed an annual report on pharmacogenomic test for an organization that manages employee disability and found that 86% of the employees referred by the disability managers had at least one defective gene6. We would be pleased to provide more information on the report and other case studies. Please contact us at: T: 1 (844) 943 0210 E: F: 416 863 5157


  1. Spear, BB., Heath-Chiozzi, M., and Huff, J (2001). Clinical application of pharmacogenomics. Trends in Molecular Medicine, 7(5).
  2. Brown, L. C., Lorenz, R. A., Li, J., & Dechairo, B. M. (March 01, 2017). Economic Utility: Combinatorial Pharmacogenomics and Medication Cost Savings for Mental Health Care in a Primary Care Setting. Clinical Therapeutics, 39, 3, 592.
  3. Smetanin, P., Stiff, D., Briante, C., Adair, CE., Ahmad, S. and Khan, M. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011-2041.
  4. Institute of Health Economics (2008). How much should we spend on mental health? IHE Report: 14-18.
  5. Winner, J., Allen, JD., Altar., CA., and Spahic-Mihajlovic, A (2013). Psychiatric pharmacogenomics predicts health resource utilization of outpatients with anxiety and depression. Translational Psychiatry, e242(3).
  6. Annual Report on Pharmacogenomic Test 2018, Personalized Prescribing Inc.