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Walgreens to partake in Precision Medicine program

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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens plans to participate in the U.S. Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program, part of a sweeping federal medical research initiative to help develop individualized care based on a person’s genomic makeup.

Walgreens said it’s taking part in the PMI Cohort Program via an initial $20 million grant awarded to The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The drug chain will help support patient enrollment and participation in the program through its daily interactions with more than 8 million customers.

With the funding, Walgreens will offer customers enrollment in the PMI Cohort Program at its stores, at Walgreens Healthcare Clinics, online through Walgreens.com and via the Walgreens mobile app. For those who enroll, Walgreens also can schedule their initial appointment for the program.

The PMI Cohort Program aims to engage 1 million or more U.S. participants to improve the ability of preventing and treating disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics. Participants will share their health history and status, genomic and other biological information, and grant access to their clinical data from electronic health records.

In addition, mobile health devices and apps will provide lifestyle data and environmental exposures in real time. The knowledge gained from the program is expected to extend successes of precision medicine in some cancers to many other diseases and also increase an individual’s chances of remaining healthy throughout life, according to Walgreens.

“Walgreens has a long commitment to implementing innovative digital tools to improve the health and wellbeing of our customers we serve every day across the country,” stated Brad Fluegel, senior vice president and chief health care commercial market development officer at Walgreens. “Our participation in the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program will help shape the future of pharmacy by developing more precise medications, based on a person’s genetic and other biological information and lifestyle, that can reduce side effects and drug interactions while increasing their effectiveness.”

The award will total almost $120 million over five years and is part of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, announced in January 2015.

“As a trusted health care resource to the millions of customers and patients we see every day, Walgreens will help launch this important program that can lead to delivering the right treatments at the right time to help Americans live longer, happier and healthier lives,” commented Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

This week, the Food and Drug Administration issued two draft guidances designed to foster the oversight of tests — using next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology — that detect medically important differences in a person’s genomic makeup. The first guidance provides recommendations for designing, developing and validating NGS-based tests for rare hereditary diseases, and the second describes an approach for test developers to rely on clinical evidence from FDA-recognized public genome databases to support clinical claims for their tests.

“Targeting the right treatments to the right patients at the right time is the goal of the president’s Precision Medicine Initiative,” stated FDA Commissioner Robert Califf. “Soon, patients will have a much more complete picture of their health than in the past, informed by their genetic and genomic makeup. The FDA is preparing for this exciting approach at multiple levels.”


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