May 3, 2017, Toronto, ON — Pharmacists can be effectively trained to recommend and apply genetic testing results for their patients to tailor their medications for better therapeutic results, says Dr. Micheline Piquette-Miller, of the University of Toronto.

Piquette-Miller, a professor in the Leslie Dan School of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto, is a feature panel member today at an international conference on pharmacogenomics — the study of drug-gene interactions. She is presenting to genomics researchers, clinicians and international experts who have gathered in Maryland to discuss and exchange information about how best to apply burgeoning pharmacogenomic information into real-world medical services, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals and pharmacies.

pharmacogenomics PRIMECalled Genomic Medicine X: Pharmacogenomics, the conference has been sponsored by the US National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the premier national organization for the translation of genomic research into improving human health.

“Some people react badly to common prescription medications and genetic differences are often at the root of some of these adverse responses,” notes Piquette-Miller. “Our research shows that community pharmacists can be easily trained to interpret the results to personalize and optimize drug therapy based on their patient’s genetic profile.”

The conference is discussing methods to better use new knowledge on pharmacogenomics in routine clinical services. Goals include identifying research gaps, sharing approaches to implementation of pharmacogenomics, and facilitating more collaborative activities in the research community.

Piquette-Miller is one of the co-leads of PRIME (Pharmacists as Personalized Medicine Experts), a unique research study in Canada, which trained 21 Ontario community pharmacists to perform pharmacogenomic testing and to apply the results to optimize patients’ medications. After a two-day training program, the pharmacists were equipped to recommend genetic testing to their patients. The pharmacists received the results and then were able to better advise the patient and doctors to prevent adverse reactions and improve patient outcomes.

“The study has enrolled over 125 patients throughout Ontario and the responses from patients, pharmacists and prescribers have been very positive. We hope to expand this very important line of research to benefit a larger number of pharmacists and patients in the future,” she said.

The PRIME study is being conducted by Drs. Lisa McCarthy, Beth Sproule, Micheline Piquette-Miller, Natalie Crown, Daniel Mueller and James Kennedy from the University of Toronto, with funding from the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy and a partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health IMPACT Study.

PRIME is one of the research studies operating under the umbrella of OPEN — the Ontario Pharmacy Evidence Network — a consortium of academic scientists from seven institutions who research the impact and effectiveness of pharmacist medication management services.

The NHGRI Genomic Medicine X conference was broadcast live at 8:30 am EDT on Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

For more information, please contact

Dr. Lisa McCarthy
Assistant Professor
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto
(416) 323-6059
lisa.mccarthy@utoronto.ca