Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Myriad to Acquire Assurex: Pharmacogenetics for Psychiatry

In a vote of confidence for the value of pharmacogenetic testing to improve clinical outcomes in psychiatry, Myriad Genetics will acquire Assurex Health for $225 in upfront payments (with potential milesteon payments of up to $185M).  See a news article here.  Details after the break.

Assurex Health developed a set of germline pharmacogenetic biomarkers from which patient-specific genetic results were processed through bioinformatics assets to predict more and less likely candidates for pharmacotherapy.  For example, drugs which for the specific patient would have highly abnormal fast or slow metabolism were flagged as unlikely candidates.   The proprietary test and report are called GeneSight.

Retrospective studies initially showed that patients who had been on poorly-matched drugs in a prior year had worse outcomes than those who (before testing) were well-matched.   Prospective studies found higher-than-expected response rates when subjects were transferred to genetically well-matched drugs.

Assurex obtained MolDX Medicare coverage for difficult patients (e.g. refractory depression) being managed by psychiatrists in October 2014, current example here.  Other payers, such as Anthem, do not cover Genescript, at least based on published policies (here).

Disclaimer: I have done some strategy consulting for both Assurex and for another leading laboratory in this field, Genelex, whose genetic/digital product is called YouScript.  Genelex is working towards increasing clinical decision support functions, such as with EHR integration and in collaborations with EPIC.