Finding the right antidepressant with genetic testing

The problem: Prescribing antidepressants involves a bit of trial and error: Between 40% and 60% of patients don’t respond to the first antidepressant they’re prescribed. Studies have shown that genetics account for up to 42% of variations in how patients with similar symptoms respond differently to the same medication.

The solution: Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that pharmacogenomic testing — which looks at how genetics impact the efficacy of medication — could greatly improve the chances of finding the right treatment. A model based on health data, clinical trials, and patient experiences predicted that testing would result in 37% fewer patients being unable to find an effective treatment and cut the time patients deal with depression symptoms by 15%. It could also save B.C.’s public health system $956 million over 20 years.

Yes, but: These tests aren’t publicly funded. So unless it’s covered by private insurance, patients will have to pay anywhere from $300 to $2,500 out of pocket.