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Cepmed Survey Finds Canadian Physicians Have Low Confidence in Practicing Personalized Rx

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A recent survey has found that Canadian doctors — much like their counterparts in the US — lack the expertise to effectively practice personalized medicine.

The Center of Excellence in Personalized Medicine, or Cepmed, a non-profit organization focused on encouraging the adoption of personalized medicine in Canada, conducted the survey to gauge physicians' comfort level delivering molecularly guided individualized care.

Cepmed distributed the surveys online, by mail, or by fax to doctors across multiple specialties and geographies. Of the 363 respondents, 43 percent were family physicians, 30 percent were cardiologists, and 27 percent were oncologists.

"A strong majority of respondents agreed that genetic testing and personalized medicine can have a positive impact on their practice; however, only 51 percent agreed that there is sufficient evidence to order such tests," researchers led by Katherine Bonter of Cepmed wrote in an abstract published in the British Medical Journal, an open-access online publication.

The survey revealed that a "low percentage of respondents," around 29 percent, believed they were "sufficiently informed and confident practicing in this area."

Many respondents noted that genetic tests they have ordered benefited their patients, but approximately half of the respondents felt genetic tests that would be useful in their practice are not readily available. Doctors cited a "lack of practice guidelines, limited provider knowledge and lack of evidence-based clinical information … as the main barriers to practice" personalized medicine, according to the survey.

The survey suggests a need for "the development of clinical practice guidelines and sharing of best practices and resources nationally," Cepmed said in a release last month announcing the study findings.

In this regard, Cepmed has formed expert panels in oncology, cardiology, and family medicine who will review the available tests and practice guidelines for their given specialty and issue recommendations for incorporating personalized medicine approaches into medical care.

Similar to this survey, the pharmacy benefit manager Medco issued a questionnaire in 2008 to more than 10,000 US physicians to gauge their views on genetic testing. That survey found that although 98 percent of physicians felt that their patients' genetic profiles may influence how they respond to treatments, only 10 percent believed they were adequately informed about pharmacogenetic testing.

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