Raffles is the first hospital in Singapore to provide pre-emptive pharmacogenomics testing protocol Aims to reduce side effects due to inappropriate medications
SINGAPORE, Oct. 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Raffles Medical Group (RMG) is collaborating with biotech start-up NalaGenetics to offer pre-emptive pharmacogenomics testing at its hospital. It is the first hospital in Singapore to provide such a service.
Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to medication. Pre-emptive pharmacogenomics testing on a healthy person can be used to discover whether a person is likely to respond well or develop adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to certain medications. The test results could then be used to guide doctors on the choice and dosage of medicine to improve patient outcomes.
Collaboration to conduct study & offer commercial tests
The collaboration between RMG and NalaGenetics involves the recruitment of 500 patients to participate in a pilot study on pre-emptive pharmacogenomics testing and covers a range of chronic prescriptions in cardiovascular, psychiatry and pain, among others. The study aims to better understand how doctors leverage such information, while providing research data on the potential benefits of large-scale implementation in Singapore. The study will take place over one year and the recruitment starts on 3 October.
Patients who suffer from or are prone to ten specified diseases will be eligible to take part in the study. Eligible participants will have their genetic samples collected via a non-invasive buccal swab at Raffles Hospital Singapore, which will then be tested by NalaGenetics in its laboratory. The test results will be integrated into the participants’ electronic medical records at RMG. There is no cost involved to participate in the study.
RMG will also avail the testing as a commercial service to other interested patients or members of the public, with NalaGenetics as the testing partner. Such commercial testing will cover a much wider range of medications.
Benefits of pre-emptive pharmacogenomics testing
Providing pre-emptive pharmacogenomics testing is timely as Singapore is increasingly focusing on preventive health. Such testing could help to identify high-risk patients and avert side effects and even hospital admissions. For example, patients who have genetics that put them at risk of not being able to metabolise blood thinners well are up to two times more likely to experience recurring acute coronary syndrome. Research has also shown that 8% of hospital admissions are caused by ADRs and 30% of those have high genetic associations, and patients with ADRs have a longer length of stay on average.
“RMG is the first hospital in Singapore to offer pre-emptive pharmacogenomics testing. We believe that a patient’s genetic information can help facilitate our doctors’ decision-making process and result in more appropriate prescriptions and better patient outcomes. As a leading integrated healthcare provider, we have always leveraged technology to enhance patient care, and this innovative collaboration with NalaGenetics is yet another value-added service for our patients,” says Dr. Chng Shih Kiat, Medical Director, Raffles Medical.
“We believe that pre-emptive pharmacogenomics testing not just improves outcomes for patients, it also helps in cutting healthcare costs by avoiding inappropriate treatments. There are potentially long-term cost savings from implementing such pre-emptive testing on a large-scale for governments and insurance companies,” says Ms Levana Sani, CEO of NalaGenetics.
She added, “This collaboration with RMG is very exciting for our team, because we get to implement our system end-to-end; from patient recruitment all the way to integration of patient reports to help physicians not only at the point of testing, but throughout the patient’s health journey.”
Those interested in taking the test can contact Raffles Health Screeners at Raffles Hospital.
About Raffles Medical Group
Raffles Medical Group (RMG) is a leading integrated private healthcare provider in Asia, with presence in 14 cities across five countries. Through its network of more than 100 multi-disciplinary clinics and four hospitals, the Group provides its patients with a seamless continuum of care. Besides medical care, the Group’s comprehensive services include health insurance, healthcare training and consumer healthcare products. Established in 1976 with two clinics in Singapore, the Group now has more than 2,700 employees, including close to 430 multi-specialty physicians, and serves over 2 million patients and 7,000 corporate clients a year. RMG is listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX: BSL) since April 1997.
NalaGenetics Pte Ltd is an A*STAR spinoff that focuses on the design and development of genetic analysis and interpretation tools. The company develops wet-lab and dry-lab solutions to enable personalized prescriptions and screening in hospitals and labs.