Kroger Health will pilot its innovative depression treatment in 500 pharmacies across five states

Kroger Health, a division of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., plans to launch a pilot project to test whether doctors can use genetics to personalize treatment plans for their patients with depression.


Kroger is collaborating with Myriad Genetics, a firm that in 2016 acquired Cincinnati-based Assurex Health. The purchase of Assurex gave Myriad Genetics access to the Cincinnati startup’s GeneSight product, a diagnostic test designed to help personalize the selection of medications for psychotropic disorders.


Kroger says it will pilot the GeneSight test with its Kroger Prescription Plan members in nearly 500 Kroger pharmacies across five states.


In areas where the test is being piloted, Kroger Prescription Plan members who have failed on one or more antidepressant medications will receive information about the GeneSight test from a Kroger pharmacist or in the mail. Members will then be referred to their health care providers to determine if a test is appropriate for them.


The GeneSight test analyzes 12 genes known to affect the clinical performance of 56 common medications used to treat depression. The results of the test report can help physicians understand how a patient’s genomic makeup may impact certain psychiatric drugs and then help them make drug treatment choices.


In a recent large clinical study of 1,167 patients with moderate to very severe depression who were currently failing on medication, use of the test resulted in a 50 percent improvement in patient remission compared to previous treatment, according to Kroger.


“This test can help patients escape the frustrating process of trying multiple medications in the hopes of finding one that works,” says Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health.


Depression is a leading cause of disability and lost productivity in the United States, she continues, and only 40 percent of people reach remission after their first antidepressant medication.


Kroger Health includes more than 22,000 employees at more than 2,200 pharmacies and more than 200 clinics.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist, Cincinnati native and father of three. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.
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