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Coverage Begins

NPR reports a large health insurer has begun to cover some pharmacogenetic tests for psychiatric drugs.

The firm said that UHC will cover the test for patients with major depressive disorder or anxiety who have failed to respond to one or more treatments.

For Coverage

Parents of children with spinal muscular atrophy tell the Washington Post they are pushing to get insurance coverage of Novartis's Zolgensma.

Executives at two commercial payors said they'd follow CMS' lead when it comes to patients covered under Medicare but beyond that their support for the agency's policy is less clear. 

Payors say online, automated systems will bring standardization and efficiency to prior authorizations, but doctors and labs are uncertain about the impact on patient care.

During the quarter, the firm secured payor coverage for its tests with UnitedHealthcare, Premera Blue Cross, and Aetna. 

Starting Oct. 1, the insurer will require clinicians and labs who order genetic and molecular tests for their patients to first get approval. 

The long-term pricing contract covers hereditary cancer testing, GeneSight, and a number of other diagnostics, but doesn't extend to coverage. 

The decision is a quick reversal from a recent decision by the insurer not to cover fecal DNA testing and makes it the final major US insurer to cover Cologuard.

The test, intended as an aid for diagnosing thyroid cancer where cytopathology is inconclusive, is now covered for around 250 million patients nationwide.

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Novamax has begun a phase III trial of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, according to the New York Times.

Vox reports that the Trump Administration may limit student visas for individuals from some countries to two years.

The governor of New York says the state will conduct its own review of any SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, NPR reports.

This week in Science: Neanderthal Y chromosomes replaced by Homo sapiens Y chromosomes, and more.