Forum 360°: David Levine talks about personalized medicine

Monday, April 20, 2015

More than 275 insurance industry players attended the 2015 Forum 360° conference held in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver last March.

Our guest speaker, David Levine, who is well-known for his healthcare management expertise, gave a very interesting talk on personalized medicine and its impact on the insurance industry.

For more details, please watch this brief interview with Mr. Levine.

Note: The information between brackets describes the visual and audio content of the video that is not dialogue or narration.

[Situation: David Levine, healthcare expert and chair of the board of the Quebec Network for Personalized Health Care, talks about personalized medicine with François Joseph Poirier, Vice-President of Business Development at Desjardins Insurance.]

François Joseph Poirier (FJP): Hi, I’m François Joseph Poirier, Vice-President, Business Development at Desjardins Insurance. I’m here today with David Levine, an expert on healthcare issues to talk more about personalized medicine.

Mr. Levine, what exactly is personalized medicine?

David Levine (DL): Personalized medicine is a new way of looking at the individual. It’s a study of their gene sequencing to have more information on the code that programs, literally, every cell in their body, as well as looking at certain biomarkers. When there is an illness, biomarkers produce proteins, and we can evaluate those proteins. With this information, we can prescribe medication more precisely, and we can have an idea of the future risks for the individual and introduce, for example, programs of prevention—lifestyle changes that would help the individual.

FJP: So what are some of the future impacts of personalized medicine?

DL: If we stay in the area of personalized prescribing, and I’ll give you an example of a woman who has breast cancer, and it is indicated by her physician, could ask to have their genome sequenced, this would indicate what medication should be given to her that would have a positive effect. If the sequencing wasn’t done and the medication was given, she might have very negative consequences with no positive benefit. So this could be something that could be offered. There are about 50 medications at the moment that have a link to either the biomarker or the genome of the individual, so this would allow for much more appropriate medication, in which case the employee would come back to work quicker, there would be less stress, less long-term disability, as I said, more rapid return to work, and I think this would be an advantage for the employer and the type of addition to the offering of insurance that would be interesting for the employer.

FJP: So do you think that sponsors and employers out there at some point would be impacted by the offering of personalized medicine?

DL: I don’t think they’re going to have a choice. I mean it’s going to be something that even the population will start to ask for it as this becomes more and more common, common knowledge within the population. Within the Canadian universal healthcare system it’s a question of what will be covered under our universal system and what will be covered by the insurance coverage to employers. I think, in the beginning, it’s the insurance industry that will do some of the coverage in this area.

FJP: Great. Thank you very much.

DL: You’re very welcome.

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