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Medco to Expand PGx Offerings to All Clients in July

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Originally published May 25.

Pharmacy-benefits manager Medco is planning to expand its pharmacogenetic test offerings and a suit of genomic services to all of its clients beginning in July.

The PBM, which provides services to 60 million people, began offering PGx testing two years ago to a limited number of its clients, offering tests for the anticoagulant warfarin and the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Eventually, Medco rolled out its PGx testing program to around 200 clients representing 7 million lives.

This summer, however, Medco will offer PGx testing to all of its customers, including employers, health plans, and other benefit programs. Through a new genomic services effort, called Precision Health Solutions, Medco will offer clients PGx tests for the anti-platelet drug Plavix (Sanofi-Aventis/Bristol-Myers Squibb); the leukemia drugs Gleevec (Novartis), Sprycel (BMS), and Tasigna (Novartis); and the HIV treatments Selzentry (Pfizer) and Ziagen (GlaxoSmithKline).

In acquiring genetic education provider DNA Direct earlier this year, Medco gained the ability to provide additional educational and decision support services to its customers (PGx Reporter 02/03/10).

In addition to expanded access to genetic testing, Medco plans to provide customers access to genetic counselors and online tools to assist members and physicians in making informed decisions regarding pharmacogenomic, fertility, and pre-natal testing; help with understanding reimbursement policies and appropriate coverage criteria for genetic and molecular diagnostics; guide proper test utilization and better cost containment; and provide advice on how to structure a genetic test benefit with guidance from Medco’s Laboratory and Therapeutics Committee on available tests and labs.

Jane Barlow, VP of Precision Health Solutions, will oversee day-to-day operations of the genetic testing program.

According to Medco, 220 clients representing over 10 million lives are currently enrolled in Medco’s personalized medicine programs. "Precision Health Solutions is aimed at driving Medco’s growth and deepening client relationships beyond 2015," Medco CEO David Snow said in a statement.

Medco's pharmacogenomic research to gauge the clinical utility of genetic data to dose warfarin and tamoxifen, as well as a study looking at the role of KIF-6 in driving statin compliance, has generated growing interest among its customers, the PBM said. "After Medco announced its research initiatives, clients began requesting personalized medicine programs targeted at improving medical outcomes for patients using commonly prescribed drugs," Medco added in a statement.

According to Barlow, by expanding its personalized medicine offerings, Medco is hoping to not only improve health outcomes, but also lower costs for its clients.

"About 20 percent of genetic tests are ordered inappropriately and there are opportunities to help employers and health plans save money in this field," Barlow said. "More importantly, our clients are taking a more integrated view about health care and the impact of medications and diagnostics on overall patient outcomes."

Also in July, Medco's competitor CVS Caremark, which took a majority stake in the genetic benefits management firm Generation Health earlier this year, is planning to roll out a pilot PGx testing program among its PBM clients. The program will be broadly introduced early next year.

- TR

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