Manulife launches personalized medicine program for enhanced health care members to improve health outcomes

August 23, 2023

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Results from pilot study show that 80% of qualifying members who took a pharmacogenomic test updated their medications in consultation with their healthcare provider; 86% reported an improvement in their mental health.

TORONTO – Manulife (TSX: MFC) today announced that its Personalized Medicine program (known industry-wide as pharmacogenomics) will now be available for Extended Health Care members with certain qualifying conditions at no additional cost. This simple, one-time genetic test, done via a saliva sample that takes less than a minute, helps predict how effective certain medications may be depending on an individual’s genetic makeup. Based on the results, health care practitioners can then tailor treatment plans that are personalized and precise, reducing side effects and increasing the odds of successful patient outcomes.

“As a trained pharmacist, the potential that our Personalized Medicine program has to help improve quality of life for millions of Canadians is exciting and encouraging,” says Ashesh Desai, Head of Group Benefits, Manulife Canada. “As one of the first insurance providers in Canada to add this test to our suite of coverage options, we’re underscoring our commitment to be a true health partner to our members.”

Genetics plays a significant role in how people respond to drugs; by examining an individual’s DNA, medical professionals can predict and anticipate how a patient may react (or not react) to certain medications and tailor a treatment plan that address the unique needs of each patient. Understanding the potential efficacy of a medication beforehand can help eliminate an often painful and drawn-out trial-and-error process while greatly improving patient outcomes and the overall health and wellbeing of Canadians. The test is covered for members and their dependants that have one of the following conditions: a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety; chronic pain; neurological conditions, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This Personalized Medicine program has been in a pilot stage with select Manulife Group Benefits members since 2021 and the results have been encouraging: 80% of members changed their medications in consultation with their healthcare providers, and 86% of members reported an improvement in their mental health.

“With pharmacogenomic testing, we can gain insight into how people may breakdown and process certain medications. Testing may help identify some medications that should be avoided or prescribed at a different dose,” says Dr. Steve Pomedli, Manulife's Medical Director of Group Benefits through Cleveland Clinic Canada. “Pharmacogenomic testing is one tool that may help narrow the number of medications to try for certain chronic conditions. Testing does not provide information regarding response to all medications that are currently prescribed, nor responses to dietary and herbal supplements. Once a member receives their test results, they should discuss the best next steps with their healthcare provider.”

To learn more about Manulife Canada and its group benefit solutions for employers and unions, please visit

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services provider, helping people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife across Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for our Global Wealth and Asset Management segment, we serve individuals, institutions, and retirement plan members worldwide. At the end of 2022, we had more than 40,000 employees, over 116,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 34 million customers. We trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.

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Emily Vear



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