Can this test help cut medical benefit costs?

This new industry player wants to slash your drug plan spending while getting ill staff back to work faster

Can this test help cut medical benefit costs?
At a time when many employers are fretting over the rising cost of employee benefits, a new provider offers to get sick staff back to work faster, while cutting drug bills – and all workers need to do is spit in a tube.

Personalized Prescribing is in the business of pharmacogenetic testing – an industry many employers have likely never heard of or contemplated, though it could play a key role in the future of medical benefits.

The company uses genetic testing involving liver enzymes to predict an individual’s response to medication.

Some people are revealed poor metabolizers, at risk of having drugs build up in their system, leading to adverse reactions, toxicity or even overdoses. Others are “ultrametabolizers” whose system clears the medication too quickly for it to take effect.

“We predict what type of metabolizer you are for a drug, and we’re in the mode of getting the right drug at the right dose for the right patient the first time,” says Personalized Prescribing’s director of operations Michael Prouse.

He says that helps reduce absenteeism and disability, and increases productivity – and it can be especially useful when a worker is suffering a mental illness, and their doctor is trying to find the right drug and the right dose.

“We’re in the market to provide a test to provide clarity to these people, and when that medication aspect is right for them, they start to feel better about themselves, and we’ve got people to return back to work as a result of this,” Prouse says.

Many of Personalized Prescribing’s employer clients prefer to pay per employee, per month – similar to an EAP – with the pooled funds covering the cost of a test when it’s needed.

Personalized Prescribing can test an individual’s enzymes to gauge their response to more than 900 brand name medications – all from a single vial of spit, sent to its lab. It then works with their doctor to prescribe their best option.

For employers, Prouse says, there’s a great return on investment.

“[It’s] making your drug plan much more effective and efficient, so you’re cutting down on costs right away.

“Everyone is unique, and the way that they metabolize medications is unique, so you have to treat all of your employees in a unique way – they’re not just numbers. If you want to have the healthiest workforce and the most effective drug plan, pharmacogenetic testing is the path and the solution.”

Related stories:
Here's what the future of benefits looks like
Does sick pay encourage workers to play ill?

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