Researchers Analyze Relationship Between Pharmacogenomics and Appropriate Oncology Care
San Diego—Pharmacogenomic (PGx) testing seeks to optimize treatment by ensuring patients receive the bestsuited drug based on interindividual genetic variation. Currently, no published data exist on how this may influence the appropriateness of oncology treatment within a utilization management program. Seeking to remedy this, researchers from CVS Caremark (Northbrook, IL) analyzed data from their own utilization management program, within which PGx testing requirements are implemented for certain oncology therapies and specific indications.
After gathering data on all of the patient assessments that required PGx testing between July 1, 2009, and December 31, 2009, the researchers categorized them into 3 groups: PGx performed and patient met criteria, PGx performed and patient did not meet criteria, and PGx not performed and patient did not meet criteria. They found that of the 801 total assessments, 424 required PGx; in 98% of these (417), the test was actually conducted.
According to lead researcher Sherry Siegert, PharmD, the fact that such a “very high” percentage of patients received PGx testing when it was required “may indicate that most oncologists are prescribing in accordance with currently accepted guidelines for cancer care.” In addition, although she acknowledges that the study’s small sample size and short duration impeded the team from developing a complete picture of agent utilization, she adds that payers can still use certain practices to support therapy appropriateness, including requesting copies of PGx test results and ensuring the laboratory quality of such tests meets standard requirements for clinical and analytical validity.
Researcher M. Eileen Dolan, PhD, professor of medicine and chair of the Committee on Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics at the University of Chicago, notes that utilizing pharmacogenomics is “particularly important to reduce the likelihood that patients will receive an ineffective drug while enduring side effects that can be severe, possibly even life-threatening.”