Medco Acquires DNA Direct: A Great Step for Personalized Medicine
Posted Feb 01 2010 12:00am
I am so excited to announce that today, February 2 2010, DNA Direct is now an integral part of Medco Health Solutions, Inc. and it feels like I have found a kindred spirit. Medco is simply the most innovative and forward-thinking healthcare organization in the industry today and it just happens to be a Fortune 50 company serving more than 60 million members!
Having spent the past 25 years as an entrepreneur translating healthcare information to patients, I can’t think of a better partner to take personalized medicine to the next level. Their pioneering clinical and research programs in pharmacogenetics reach millions of people, and they are poised to extend their leadership and expertise across all of genetics. Together Medco and DNA Direct have envisioned genomic medicine programs for payors, employers, physicians and patients to lower costs for all stakeholders, increase access for those who need and it, and improve patient care. I can’t wait to start rolling out our new programs this year and increase our reach in healthcare exponentially improving outcomes for those who can truly benefit from genomic medicine today.
We’ve come a long way since we opened our doors in 2005. Thousands of people have visited our Web site, used our genetic counseling and testing services, or have been referred by their physician to have their genomic questions answered. In some cases, people found out that genetic testing wasn’t going to help improve their care immediately, but they were grateful that they were able to speak to a certified genetic counselor to understand why a particular test wouldn’t give them what they were looking for. We helped launch the first community-based Genomic Medicine Institute in the U.S. at El Camino Hospital, we launched the first genetic guidance program for a top five health plan with Humana, facilitating prior authorization and providing clinical services to ensure appropriate testing with lower out of pocket costs from the right lab. And at the end of 2009, we became the first genomics-focused company to receive utilization management approval from URAC a Washington D.C.-based health care accrediting organization that establishes quality standards for the health care industry.
One of our customers was a close friend of mine who contracted a rare parasitic disease on one of her tropical vacations and developed chronic, unimaginable pain. She saw specialist after specialist, and nothing they prescribed gave her any relief. At times, she wondered if she was going crazy. I was able to offer her another possible explanation. Maybe her body couldn’t process the kinds of medications she was taking, maybe she had a genetic mutation that prohibited her from getting the relief that she so desperately needed. I helped her get testing for three genes that are responsible for metabolizing many of the prescription medications available today. Sure enough, it turned out that she was a poor metabolizer for two of those genes, the ones responsible for processing the main components of most pain medications. My friend shared these results with her healthcare team, and together they created an alternative pain management plan that helps her live life to its fullest. This is just one example of the many individuals that DNA Direct has been able to touch. To me, this is the core of personalized medicine, it isn’t just “the right test for the right patient at the right time”, it’s the right kind of communication to get patients and physicians, and medical directors and policy makers, the key information they need to improve health outcomes.
As a Medco company, DNA Direct will remain based in San Francisco and 100% of our team will continue to serve our existing and future clients as we provide quality precision healthcare services and expand our reach and focus exponentially. I’m looking forward to 2010!