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Albertsons Cos. pharmacies offer genetic testing

Service aimed at improving mental health patients’ drug therapy

More than two dozen Albertsons Cos. pharmacies are providing mental health patients a genetic test that could help them get better results from their medication therapy.

Under a partnership between the supermarket retailer and personalized medicine specialist Genomind, pharmacy patients at select Albertsons, Jewel-Osco and Acme stores can receive free education about Genomind's Genecept Assay, a genetic test designed to help clinicians optimize treatment decisions.

The test identifies patient-specific genetic markers that indicate which medications are likely to work as intended, have no effect or cause adverse effects. Up to half of all mental health patients respond poorly to the first psychiatric medicine they try because everyone's body is different, partially based on their individual genetic makeup, the companies reported.

Participating locations include 21 Sav-On pharmacies at Albertsons stores in Boise, Idaho, and nearby communities; five Jewel-Osco pharmacies at Jewel-Osco supermarkets in the Chicago area; and two Sav-On pharmacies at Acme supermarkets in the Philadelphia area.

"We are excited to bring this opportunity to educate our patients about how genetic testing may be able to help them get better faster as they face mental health challenges,” Mark Panzer, senior vice president of pharmacy, health and wellness at Albertsons Cos., said in a statement. “We have reviewed the Genecept Assay from Genomind and feel confident about how its platform can enable an individualized approach to treatment.”

The process would work as follows: A patient exhibiting unsuccessful experiences with a medication prescribed for depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or other mental illnesses may receive counseling from specially trained pharmacists. If the patient agrees, the pharmacist then would contact the treating clinician and recommend the Genecept Assay test, which involves collecting a small amount of saliva with a cheek swab.

The pharmacist would administer the test in a private area of the pharmacy. After the test results are returned from Genomind's CLIA-certified lab, the pharmacist would review them with the patient. The clinician also would receive the test results and could use them in treatment decisions.

Genomind and Albertsons Cos. said the service may be expanded to more pharmacy locations over time.

"We strongly embrace Albertsons Cos.’ mission to help people across the country live better lives, and we are honored to now be part of that effort," said Michael Koffler, president and CEO of King of Prussia, Pa.-based Genomind. "Albertsons, Acme, Jewel-Osco and Sav-On are among the most established and respected pharmacies and pharmacists in the communities they serve. We are eager to bring Genomind's unique platform to their patients."

Genomind said the Genecept Assay platform covers more than 20 drug classes, 122 FDA-approved medications, 18 clinically validated genes and 97% of medications used to treat depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention-deficit disorder and autism, as well as comprehensive coverage of pain medications.

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