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CVS Caremark alliance expands pharmacogenomic services

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark Corp. aims to broaden pharmacogenomic clinical and testing services for its pharmacy benefit management clients through a partnership with Generation Health Inc., a genetic benefit management firm.

The drug store chain and PBM company, which unveiled the alliance on Tuesday, said the move will improve care for patients who are nonresponsive or have adverse reactions to their medications.

"Personalized medicine is a fast-growing field, but the process for providing relevant and systematic clinical delivery of service needs to improve and evolve," Troy Brennan, executive vice president and chief medical officer at CVS Caremark, said in a statement. "We will integrate Generation Health’s unique skills in genomic medicine with the experience in benefit management of both companies to provide clients with a sophisticated, evidence-based clinical approach."

CVS Caremark said the pharmacogenomic clinical services resulting from the partnership are slated to be introduced to its PBM clients in the second quarter of 2010.

The company added that it’s also acquiring a minority stake in Generation Health and, as part of the agreement, Brennan will join Generation Health’s board of directors. No other financial terms of the agreement were disclosed.

The proper application of pharmacogenomic medicine can help doctors evaluate a patient’s genetic makeup to determine if a specific medication will be effective, according to CVS Caremark. Medical studies have found that in some instances people get little benefit and even face harmful and costly side effects from medications they take.

Through the partnership, CVS Caremark plans to use genetic testing to apply greater precision to client prescription management to help improve health outcomes and reduce medical costs. The company said it currently provides pharmacogenomic intervention services in its specialty pharmacy business, and the alliance builds on those offerings and introduces them for targeted drugs dispensed under the traditional PBM setting.

Plans call for CVS Caremark and Generation Health to initially focus on pharmacogenomic clinical and testing programs that predict how a patient will respond to medications in the areas of oncology, cardiovascular medicine, treatment of HIV and others.

"The emerging field of genomics is complex and challenging for health care payers and providers alike, yet critically important to how medicine is practiced today," commented Per Lofberg, chief executive officer and co-founder of Generation Health. "Our focus on genomic medicine allows for a holistic approach that includes managing the process for determining hereditary risk for certain diseases, as well as managing pharmacogenomic services. We intend to impact physician practice and patient well-being with accessible, affordable and actionable information."

The companies said the partnership also will allow them to explore future programs in the medical diagnostics arena to encourage appropriate, cost-effective testing for certain hereditary diseases, as well as eliminate unnecessary testing where evidence for clinical validity and utility is lacking.

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