VA and Sanford Health team on precision medicine program

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The Department of Veterans Affairs and one of the country’s largest nonprofit healthcare systems have partnered to provide free pharmacogenetic testing to 250,000 veterans at 125 sites.

The Pharmacogenomics Action for Cancer Survivorship (PHASeR) program for VA patients is funded through a $25 million gift from philanthropist Denny Sanford and a matching fundraising effort from Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health.

The genetic testing program, which uses DNA to help providers determine which medications will be most effective for patients, launches this year at a pilot site at the Durham VA Health Care System where all cancer survivors who receive treatment at the facility will be enrolled.

“This screening test will help providers at the VA prescribe the most appropriate medications at the right dose for cancer survivors,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a written statement. “Our goal is to continue delivering the best care possible for our nation’s heroes, and this partnership helps us do just that.”

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Sanford Health will process the tests at its South Dakota-based Imagenetics facility, and test results will be shared with physicians through the electronic health record to “ensure efficiency and accuracy in choosing treatments,” according to the announcement.

The test results will help with clinical decision making for all types of prescribed medications, including cardiovascular and mental health diseases as well as pain management. Sanford Imagenetics, which contends it is the first program in the nation to fully integrate genetics into primary care, reports that more than 90 percent of patients who have been tested have been found to carry a genetic change that could affect medication selection or dosing.

“We have seen firsthand how this testing can positively influence patient care,” said Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “Through the generosity of Mr. Sanford, we are proud to join VA to make the test available to our nation’s Veterans.”

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