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Evidence to Improve Care

Emerging Pharmacogenomic Tests

Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee Recommendations

  • Based on expert opinion, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee determined that pharmacogenomic tests for certain drugs will present a real pressure to the health care system in the next 12 months.

  • Therefore, the committee urges that provincial capacity to conduct evidence-based analyses be identified and secured as soon as possible.

Read the full OHTAC Recommendation Report

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. Advances in the understanding of common genetic variations have made it possible for doctors to begin to use information about a person’s genetic makeup to help choose drugs and drug doses that are likely to work best for that person.

This is a new science and so far only a small number of drugs, mostly for cancer treatment, have been identified to be used in this way. But the field is growing quickly and many more drugs are being tested for their pharmacogenomic properties.

Health Quality Ontario Reviews Emerging Pharmacogenomic Tests

In 2011, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee gathered information about emerging pharmacogenomics testing. Of the many drugs being tested, the Committee came up with a list of those that should be given priority in Ontario for upcoming health technology assessment.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has accepted this recommendation.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: The Genetics Testing Advisory Committee was established in April 2014 with a three-year mandate to review the clinical utility and validity of genetic tests and provide advice to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on the provision of genetic tests in Ontario. Some of the functions of the committee, including the responsibility to make recommendations about which tests receive public funding, have been transferred to Health Quality Ontario, which has established its Ontario Genetics Advisory Committee.

Health Technology Assessment at Health Quality Ontario

As part of our core function to promote health care supported by the best available evidence, we use established scientific methods to analyze the evidence for a wide range of health interventions, including diagnostic tests, medical devices, interventional and surgical procedures, health care programs and models of care. These analyses are informed by input from a range of individuals, including patients and clinical experts. The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee — a committee of the Health Quality Ontario board of directors — reviews the evidence and makes recommendations about whether health care interventions should be publicly funded or not. Draft recommendations are posted on the Health Quality Ontario website for feedback. Final recommendations are approved by our board of directors and then shared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For more detailed information, visit our Evidence to Improve Care pages.


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