The GeneSight® test featured in bipartisan congressional caucus
“I currently utilize [the GeneSight test] because I do believe in the combinatorial approach and also that it has a big study to support it. Being evidence-based is really important to me.”
— Dr. Carson Felkel, a psychiatrist and medical director of behavioral health at Bon Secours Mercy Health System.
Dr. Felkel recently testified in front of the bipartisan bicameral Congressional Personalized Medicine Caucus about his passionate belief in pharmacogenomic testing, including the GeneSight test. The Caucus partnered with the Personalized Medicine Coalition, a nonprofit organization which sponsored the briefing, and of which Myriad Genetics is a member.
Dr. Felkel told the panel about his “conversion” to pharmacogenomics based on his experience with a patient, who he referred to as Ethan, who had severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and major depression.
“Ethan is selectively mute, so he is not talking to me, and his knuckles are just almost bloody because he’s been handwashing too much,” shared Dr. Felkel. “So, I did what any child psychiatrist knows how to do, and that’s getting him into the best exposure response therapist.”
After two years, a hospitalization and now taking two more and different medications, Ethan comes back “and he’s gained 40 pounds,” testified Dr. Felkel. “…And I remember the day because their family’s leaving my office and I get a call that he tried to jump out of a car… His parents have lost all faith in me. I’m frustrated with myself, and they hospitalized him again.”
This time in the hospital, Ethan’s psychiatrist ordered a GeneSight test. With Ethan’s genetic information in hand, the psychiatrist prescribed a new medication.
Ethan then had a complete remission.
“I was left feeling so guilty that it was another psychiatrist [who ordered] a GeneSight [test],” said Dr. Felkel.
Dr. Felkel explained this was the first – but far from the last time – he’s heard about how the GeneSight test has changed the course of a patient’s treatment and recovery.
“These stories happen over and over and over again,” testified Dr. Felkel. “…GeneSight [has] a study [that shows] using a combinatorial approach – 50% [relative] improvement in remission rates, when the psychiatrist has access to GeneSight [test results].”
Dr. Felkel was one of many who shared their belief in pharmacogenomic tests like the GeneSight test. Dr. David Oslin, chief of Behavioral Health at the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, director of the Veterans Health, and lead author of The PRecision Medicine In MEntal Health Care, or PRIME Care study, also addressed the Caucus.
“[The PRIME Care study] stands currently as probably the largest, and it will for quite a number of years. It was a big undertaking both financially and just doing the study. About 2,000 veterans participated (and) about 600 providers participated in the study,” said Dr. Oslin. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t a positive trial.”
“Overwhelmingly, there was a major shift in how [VA physicians] prescribed…essentially away from medicines that have drug-gene interactions,” testified Dr. Oslin. “Then the question was, do patients get better? The answer is yes, they got better – about a 1.3 odds ratio of getting better than if you didn’t have the test.”
Myriad Genetics worked with the Personalized Medicine Coalition to ensure the doctors could share their personal experience with the GeneSight test and how it helped their patients. The bipartisan bicameral Congressional Personalized Medicine Caucus includes members seeking to ensure that healthcare policies taken up by Congress consider personalized medicine.
Senators Tim Scott and Sherrod Brown have introduced bipartisan legislation that would require Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide states with best practices to improve outcomes for Medicaid-eligible individuals with mental health conditions by helping to increase access to genetic testing to inform their treatment options.
The GeneSight team remains committed to driving awareness of the test and its clinical utility and efficacy with our patients and clinicians.
Our articles are for informational purposes only and are reviewed by our Medical Information team, which includes PharmDs, MDs, and PhDs. Do not make any changes to your current medications or dosing without consulting your healthcare provider.
The GeneSight test must be ordered by and used only in consultation with a healthcare provider who can prescribe medications. As with all genetic tests, the GeneSight test results have limitations and do not constitute medical advice. The test results are designed to be just one part of a larger, complete patient assessment, which would include proper diagnosis and consideration of your medical history, other medications you may be taking, your family history, and other factors.
If you are a healthcare provider and interested in learning more about the GeneSight test, please call us at 855.891.9415. If you are a patient, please talk with your doctor to see if the GeneSight test may be helpful.