Personalized medicine for everyone

Part of doing more , with less, for more people

With recent partnerships with GeneFolio, an affordable drug-drug-gene test and knowledge base that helps clinicians more accurately diagnose and treat patients based on how they metabolize certain medications; and 2bPrecise, which captures and disseminates genomic information, The Innovation Institute is geared up to disrupt health care across the U.S.

If you’ve ever experienced the plight of a friend or family member going through an adverse drug reaction, you’ll understand why GeneFolio and 2bPrecise are such important breakthroughs that will change how we prescribe medication to patients. Our hopes are that this test will be administered widely so that millions can benefit from their own genetic information.

Currently, the GeneFolio test is available across the Avera health system and is Avera’s latest advancement in providing patients personalized medicine through pharmacogenomics. The Innovation Institute is leading the charge to introduce GeneFolio to its five other health system member owners, and its network of associates across the U.S.

Understanding pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomics is the study of DNA to understand how an individual will metabolize certain medications. The GeneFolio test examines multiple genes that impact medications for pain, depression and other psychotropic disorders, and statins for cholesterol and certain types of blood thinners.

Pharmacogenomics holds the promise that drugs might one day be tailor-made for individuals and adapted to each person's own genetic makeup. Environment, diet, weight, age, gender, family history, lifestyle, and state of health all can influence a person's response to medicines, but understanding an individual's genetic makeup is thought to be the key to creating personalized drugs with greater efficacy and safety.

Decreasing the cost of health care

Researchers at the National Center for Biotechnology Information say that pharmacogenomics can eventually lead to an overall decrease in the cost of health care because of decreases in:

1) the number of adverse drug reactions;

2) the number of failed drug trials;

3) the time it takes to get a drug approved;

4) the length of time patients are on medication;

5) the number of medications patients must take to find an effective therapy;

6) the effects of a disease on the body (through early detection).

Gareth Davies, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and Scientific Director of the Avera Institute for Human Genetics says that Avera has been advancing pharmacogenomics for almost a decade. He notes that three out of four people have genetic variations that determine how their bodies process medication. That’s why, up to now, prescribing the right medication has been an inexact process.

While GeneFolio doesn’t tell clinicians what to prescribe, it does give them an additional tool to prescribe the most effective medications, which can mean fewer side effects, faster recovery and lower costs.

Finding an effective medication can sometimes be difficult for the categories of pain, behavioral health and statins. In some cases, it can take years of trial and error. The ability to more accurately pinpoint effective medications means patients can regain their quality of life faster, while reducing the expense of trial and error treatments.

GeneFolio test

GeneFolio is available starting at $179 plus lab fees. People who are interested in GeneFolio should talk to their provider to order the test. Once the blood test is completed, Avera’s own team of molecular geneticists at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics in Sioux Falls locally analyzes the sample, and the specially trained pharmacists individualize the report to the patient’s medical history and current medications.

The patient will receive an easy-to-read report that identifies drugs in a color-coded report. The report classifies medication interactions as minimal, moderate or significant. The physician or advanced practice provider can work with the patient to determine what medications should change, if any. The report can be used for years to come as more medications are prescribed.

Knowledge is power. Therefore, if we know our own genetic code, we’ll know how to more effectively administer medications. Through pharmacogenomics, we’ll also one day know if we are susceptible to a certain disease so that we can make lifestyle changes, and so that careful monitoring and treatments can be introduced at a more precise stage to maximize our therapy.

Progress is being made, and I’m excited that The Innovation Institute gets to be a part of rolling out GeneFolio, a test that promises to be a household name in patient care.

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