Partnership Between VA & Genetic Testing Company to Provide Genetic Tests to Veterans at No Cost
Sanford Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced recently that they would be jointly establishing a program that provide pharmacogenetic testing to veterans at no cost to either the veterans or the US taxpayers.
The partnership will start with a focus on reducing ADRs, commonly known as adverse drug reactions which are responsible for a significant portion of injuries and deaths in medicine, specifically in cancer patients and survivors. Cancer patients being a medical population that is uniquely prone to ADRS with one study showing that 86% of patients being monitored experienced some level of adverse drug reactions. Pharmacogenetic testing is key to preventing ADRs and it’s imperative for prescribing physicians to understand how the drugs they are prescribing could be impacting their patients. The program is aiming to enroll up to 250,0000 veterans at 125 different pharmacogenetic testing centers across the country by 2022.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie lauded the partnership, and said relationships like this will continue to expand the department’s delivery of world class health care.
“This screening test will help providers at the VA prescribe the most appropriate medications at the right dose for cancer survivors,” Wilkie said. “Our goal is to continue delivering the best care possible for our nation’s heroes, and this partnership helps us do just that.”
PHASeR is funded by a $25 million gift from philanthropist Denny Sanford, for whom the health system is named, and an effort by Sanford Health to raise matching funds. The test can help providers determine which medications will be most effective for patients, improving access to appropriate treatments and reducing adverse drug reactions, which research shows costs up to $30 billion per year.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, a veterans advocate, also expressed gratitude to the VA, Denny Sanford and Sanford Health. “We should honor and respect our veterans,” he said, noting that this program helps fulfill a promise for giving veterans the best health care.
Deepak Voora, M.D., of the Duke University School of Medicine will direct the PHASeR Program.
“As a physician, it’s hard to predict exactly how a patient will respond to a medicine,” Voora said. But this pharmacogenetic testing program can change that by indicating how patients might respond to medications before they even take them.
Veterans will access the test at their local VA facility, and Sanford Health will process the tests at its South Dakota-based Imagenetics facility. Then the patient’s physician will receive the test results to help with their clinical decision-making for a variety of pharmaceutical treatments, including pain management, mental health issues and cardiovascular diseases.
Sanford Imagenetics PHASeR Program Started By Philanthropist Jerry Sanford
Sanford Imagenetics began in 2014 thanks to a $125 million gift from Denny Sanford. More than 90 percent of patients who have had pharmacogenetic testing have been found to carry a genetic change that could affect medication selection or dosing. Test results get shared with physicians through the electronic medical record to ensure efficiency and accuracy in choosing treatments.
The PHASeR program also will eventually support genetic counseling for patients.You can watch the full press release directly from Sanford Health below. You can also read further details from the VA themselves about their upcoming PGX program for vets.