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Albertsons announced yesterday that it is expanding its partnership with mental health company Genomind "to offer patients genetic testing at more locations." The expansion more than doubles the number of pharmacies where Albertsons offers the service from 28 to 59.

According to the announcement, "Specially trained pharmacists in all ACME pharmacies in Pennsylvania and select Albertsons pharmacies in Idaho can now offer Genomind Professional PGx Express – the most advanced and comprehensive genetic testing service to guide mental health medication management. Company pharmacists will also have access to G-DIG™, Genomind’s proprietary software system with updated information on how drugs may interact with patient genotypes as well as with other drugs."

The goal of the program is to help identify "patient-specific genetic markers that can better inform mental health treatment decisions. The test results are bundled with a suite of services that enable access to care, improve patient outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs – all designed to foster a collaboration of care between the patient, prescriber, and pharmacist."

The Genomind Professional PGx Express service is available by prescription only. The announcement says that it works this way: "Pharmacists who have observed a pattern of unsuccessful experiences with prescribed mental health medications can provide the patient with free educational materials on integrating Genomind Professional PGx Express into their treatment plans. With the patient’s permission, the pharmacist can coordinate with the patient’s healthcare provider to order the test and help administer the non-invasive cheek swab in a specially designated area of the ACME pharmacy. The pharmacist will then send the sample to Genomind’s lab. Within three days of receiving it – the fastest turnaround time in the industry – Genomind will provide the pharmacist and ordering clinician with a results report for variants from a 15- or 24-gene panel that can impact mental health treatment."
KC's View:
This strikes me as being a useful service to offer, especially at a time when anxiety and depression are enormous health issues for a lot of Americans. It seems possible that the availability of such a program at retail could help remove the stigma that mental health issues have for a lot of people.

That said, I'm not entirely persuaded that the words "mental health" and "Express" belong in the same sentence. I'm also pretty sure that the words "mental health" and "pharmacist" belong in the same sentence … at least from my experience with retail pharmacists. I cannot imagine my pharmacist knowing me well enough to put my name with my face, much less being able to judge whether I have mental health problems that need to be addressed. (Which I probably do, but that's a different story.)

Like I said, a good service … but one with a lot of issues to work out before it becomes really effective.