October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Awareness Month. Learn how True Rx Health Strategists is working to help patients with depression overcome one common treatment hurdle.
A growing number of Americans are struggling with depression; yet many of them have discovered finding the right medication can be a long game of trial and error. In fact, nearly 50% of those taking an antidepressant find that the first medication they try isn’t the right fit. The medicine may not work, or side effects may outweigh the benefits. Considering patients may need to take a new drug for up to six weeks to see if it works, a patient could spend three months or more trying to land on the right antidepressant.
A relatively new process called gene-based medication management can help match antidepressants to a patient’s specific DNA, helping eliminate a long trial and error period. Private and secure genomic testing can determine how someone’s body will respond to a particular medication. This can create a report for the patient which flags medications that may be less effective or have adverse side effects. The analysis can also help determine the best dosage for an individual patient.
Some pharmacy benefit management companies now offer gene-based medication management, also called pharmacogenomics. True Rx Health Strategists offers the service through the company’s True Genomics℠ program.
Daniel Wilson, PharmD, a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist (BCPS) and director of clinical operations at True Rx Health Strategists, outlines how True Genomics can help patients.
How does the True Genomics program work?
Testing for True Genomics is convenient and easy. If a patient is prescribed a medication that is sensitive to pharmacogenomics, a test kit will be mailed to the patient’s home. They swab the inside of their cheek and mail the kit back.
Results are delivered to the patient through a secure online portal. A True Rx clinical pharmacist also views results and, if needed, makes a recommendation to the patient’s doctor with the patient’s permission. Patients can also talk to the clinical pharmacist to discuss these results and any medication recommendations. Each True Rx clinical pharmacist is certified in pharmacogenomics by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists.
How many genes are tested?
The goal is to examine the genes that are responsible for how someone’s body processes medications. This means only about 35 genes out of the approximately 30,000 genes in the human genome are tested. Information about risks for cancer or ancestors is not included in this test.
Who has access to the test results?
Test results are considered medical information and are subject to strict privacy standards. The only people who will see the test results are the patient, their doctor, and the True Rx clinical pharmacist. The pharmacy who fills the prescription does not have access to test results.
Does the patient pay anything for pharmacogenomics testing?
All testing is free to the patients with True Rx Health Strategists. Employers who choose to offer True Genomics as a benefit pay a small fee for each test.
Can True Genomics help with other medications?
In addition to antidepressants, patients on other types of medications may also benefit from gene-based medication management. This includes patients taking statins to lower cholesterol, some blood pressure medications, chemotherapy drugs, and several other categories of medications.
Want to learn more about programs to improve patient care?
True Genomics is just one program True Rx Health Strategists offers to help employers create better care at a better price for employees and their families. Learn more about programs for your employees today.