Sanford Health, VA team up for genetic testing program


With the help of a $25 million gift, Sanford Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will begin providing free genetic testing to America’s veterans.

The goal of the program is to improve patient care and lower costs related to adverse reactions to medications.

The program will launch this year at a pilot site in Durham, North Carolina, and initially focus on cancer survivors. However, by 2020, the program will be extended to 250,000 U.S. veterans at 125 VA sites across the country.

The $25 million donation comes from philanthropist Denny Sanford and will be matched by a fundraising effort through Sandford Health.

Known by the acronym PHASeR, for Pharmacogenomics Action for Cancer Survivorship, the test can help determine which medications will be most effective for patients.

For example, the test results will help with clinical decision making for a variety of pharmaceutical treatments, including cardiovascular and mental health diseases and pain management.

The test will also help reduce adverse drug reactions in patients, which research shows costs up to $30 billion per year.

Veterans will access the test at their local VA facility, and Sanford Health will process the tests at its South Dakota-based Imagenetics facility.

Veterans Administration Secretary Robert Wilkie praised the partnership.

“This testing will help providers at the VA prescribe the most appropriate medications at the right dose,” he said. “Our goal is to take care of our nation’s veterans.”

“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 the VA to make it available to our nation’s heroes.”

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