business news in context, analysis with attitude

Albertsons said yesterday that it is partnering with Genomind to offer shoppers counseling and access to genetic testing that will allow them to make more informed treatment choices.

The service will be offered at 21 Sav-On pharmacies at Albertsons in Boise, Idaho and nearby communities; five Jewel-Osco pharmacies at Jewel-Osco in the Chicago area; and two Sav-On pharmacies at Acme in the Philadelphia area.

According to the announcement, “At the select locations, specially trained pharmacists may decide to counsel a patient if they see a pattern of the patient having unsuccessful experiences with a medicine prescribed for depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or other mental illnesses. For instance, up to half of all patients respond poorly to the first psychiatric medicine they try because everyone's body is different, partially based upon on their individual genetic makeup.

“The pharmacist, if the patient agrees, would then contact the treating clinician and suggest the Genecept Assay. The Assay identifies patient-specific genetic markers that indicate which treatments are likely to work as intended, have no effect or cause adverse effects. The pharmacist would be able to administer the test in a private area of the pharmacy; it involves collecting a small amount of saliva from the patient's mouth with a cheek swab.

“The pharmacist would review the results of the genetic test with the patient after it's returned from Genomind's CLIA-certified lab. The clinician also would receive the test and could use it to help guide treatment decisions.”
KC's View:
I’ve always been a big fan of the idea that genetic testing will allow consumers to figure out how to eat more intelligently - I think Lunds Byerlys was offering one version of this more than a decade ago. And I’ve been glad to see that services like 23 and Me have gained traction in this segment, popularizing the whole idea of genetic testing.

So good for Albertsons for testing it out. The only piece I’m not entirely on board with is the role that the pharmacist will play; it has been my personal experience that I’ve never done business with a pharmacist who I wanted doing anything more than dispensing prescriptions. But I recognize that not everybody feels that way, and that many pharmacists play a critical role in people’s health care regimens.