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Supermarkets to Offer Genetic Mental Health Test

Acme Market

Acme Market in Wayne, Pennsylvania (Albertsons Companies)

16 Dec. 2019. A chain of supermarket pharmacies in Pennsylvania will begin offering genetic tests to help customers manage their mental health medications. Acme Markets pharmacies in Pennsylvania, part of the Albertsons Companies chain, along with some Albertsons pharmacies in Idaho, will begin providing the Professional PGx Express test developed by Genomind in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

The Genomind Professional PGx Express test is given to help guide decisions by doctors and pharmacists on prescribing appropriate medications to treat mental disorders. Genomind cites data from National Alliance on Mental Illness showing one in five American adults (19%) experienced some form of mental illness in 2018. In addition, one in 25 adult Americans rate their mental illness as serious. A deadly outcome of mental illness is suicide, which now ranks as the second leading cause of death in people age 10 to 34.

The Professional PGx Express, which requires a prescription, uses samples from a patient’s cheek swab to analyze 24 genes associated with mental illness. A genetic analysis from the samples is then combined with a patient’s medical history to guide decisions by clinicians on appropriate treatments for the patient. The company says the data can help guide therapies for depression, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia, chronic pain, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse. A separate scaled-down test of 15 genes evaluates genetics related to anxiety and depression.

The company says it returns Professional PGx Express results in three days, for review by the physician and consultation with the patient and pharmacist. Results from the test include data on the patient’s unique genetics as well as traits associated with the genetic analysis, which influence the choice of medications. Patients can also gain access to the Neuroflow platform, an analytical technology for behavioral health that makes possible remote patient monitoring. Genomind and Neuroflow began its collaboration in August 2019.

The new agreement expands an initial partnership with Albertsons Companies begun in May 2018. In the first collaboration, Genomind provided its tests to 28 supermarket and retail pharmacies in or around Philadelphia and Chicago, as well as in Idaho. The new agreement more than doubles that number to 59 stores. In addition, participating pharmacies will gain access to Genomind’s G-DIG software that assesses proposed medications with other drugs prescribed for the patient, as well as effects of smoking or coffee drinking on drug metabolism.

“Pharmacists serve the front lines of medication management,” says Genomind CEO Shawn Patrick O’Brien in a company statement, “and this joint effort enables a coordinated team of clinicians, pharmacists, and pharmacogenomics experts to quickly and thoroughly address patient needs.”

Genomind cites data published in May 2018 from the Journal of Depression and Anxiety that its genetic tests to guide medication decisions for people with mood or anxiety disorders are associated with fewer subsequent hospitalizations and lower overall medical costs. Researchers assessed health insurance claims data from samples of people receiving genetic tests and matched the results to a comparable group without the tests. Those receiving the tests also had 40 percent fewer emergency room visits, 58 percent fewer in-patient hospitalizations, and saved an average of $1,948 in medical costs over six months.

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