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Genomics testing company Myriad Genetics is building on its growing momentum in the marketplace with a positive policy decision from UnitedHealthcare for its pharmacogenomic test for depression.

Salt Lake City-based Myriad Genetics’ GeneSight screening analyzes specific genes as a way to predict the effectiveness of 56 common medications for depression.

This information can be used by clinicians to more effectively target treatments to help ease patient symptoms. The test has been used by 48,000 physicians with more than 1 million patients 

Myriad’s stock soared on the news and is currently up more than 50 percent in early trading.

Myriad Genetics initially started out in the cancer screening world before branching out into new types of genomics test. The company’s involvement with GeneInsight dates back to 2016 when it acquired startup Assurex Health for $216 million.

The country’s largest insurer made its decision on the back of the company’s recently published GUIDED study found that the GeneSight test was able to drive improvements in remission among depression patients who have failed at least one medication trial.

While the study floundered in its effort to show a significant improvement in the symptoms of depression patients, the limited positive clinical results have been enough to make healthcare sponsors like Kroger and UnitedHealthcare to cover the test.

The coverage decision by UnitedHealthcare fits into a growing focus among payers on mental health as a contributor to worse overall health outcomes and a barrier to receiving care.

Health economics research from UnitedHealth Group subsidiary OptumInsight found that GeneInsight was able to help drive more than $6,000 in savings in first year healthcare costs compared to treatment-as-usual for patients with depression.

The company also cites prior research showing clinicians using GeneInsight’s results to drive fewer disability claims and medical absence days.

Picture: Benjavisa, Getty Images

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