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CVS Caremark, Generation Health to Expand PGx Testing to Millions

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – CVS Caremark the country’s largest pharmacy services provider, has decided to expand pharmacogenomic testing to its pharmacy benefit management customers to predict their responses to treatments for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and HIV.

Generation Health, a company launched last year to help insurers, employers, and PBMs implement genetic testing with their systems, will help CVS Caremark put its pharmacogenomics testing programs in place, the companies said today.

Through the collaboration, all of CVS Caremark’s PBM clients will be offered PGx testing for certain drugs as of the second quarter of 2010. CVS Caremark already offers pharmacogenomic testing services as part of its specialty pharmacy business.

In addition, CVS Caremark is making a minority equity investment in Generation Health and its chief medical officer Troyen Brenna will join Generation Health's board of directors. The partners did not disclose additional financial terms.

CVS Caremark fills or manages more than 1 billion prescriptions annually. Through its PGx testing program, CVS Caremark hopes to manage costs and improve healthcare outcomes through its more than 7,000 CVS pharmacy and Longs Drugs stores; its PBM, mail order, and specialty pharmacy arm Caremark Pharmacy Services; its retail-based health clinic subsidiary MinuteClinic; and its online pharmacy, CVS.com. The PBM division, Caremark Pharmacy Services, provides services to more than 2,000 health plans.

“The partnership will allow the companies to explore future programs in the medical diagnostics arena to encourage appropriate and cost effective testing for certain hereditary diseases, and eliminate unnecessary testing where evidence for clinical validity and utility is lacking,” the collaboration partners said in a statement.

“Through this partnership CVS Caremark will use genetic testing to apply greater precision to client prescription management, with the goal of improving individual health outcomes and reducing overall medical costs,” CVS Caremark and Generation Health said in a statement.

The expansion of CVS Caremark’s PGx program signals the growing belief among pharmacy service providers that genomically-targeted personalized medicine will improve drug efficacy, avoid adverse reactions, and lower healthcare costs.

So far, the most notable PBM company to encourage integrating pharmacogenomic strategies into its customers' healthcare has been Medco which, representing 60 million people, is the second largest PBM in the US.

Initially, PGx testing will be offered to gauge patient response to oncology, cardiovascular, and HIV drugs. Eventually, the program will be expanded to drugs in other disease areas, the companies said.

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