Assurex Health Launches Collaboration with Canadian Mental Health Center

Brad Webb

AssureRXHealth_logoOur portfolio company Assurex Health just announced the creation of a partnership with Canada’s Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), one of the world’s leading research centers in the area of addiction and mental health and Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital. CAMH will offer to Canadian citizens the firm’s pharmacogenomic test, GeneSight, which is now widely available in the US. Claremont Creek Ventures is very excited about this step forward for Assurex Health, and we feel that the GeneSight test will prove to be as valuable to the Canadian mental health care system as it has in the US. Canada has the highest per capita use of psychiatric medications in the world. During their lifetime, about 20-25% of Canada’s 35 million population will experience some type of mental illness, a prevalence similar to the US. The costs of mental health treatments to the Canadian healthcare system are estimated to be about $100 billion in 2013. A substantial portion of these costs are the result of patients not responding to their prescribed medication, side effects caused by improper dosing levels, and recurring non-compliance.

GeneSight_product_page1GeneSight is a genomic test that measures and analyzes a patient’s genomic variants, which then can be used by physicians to select appropriate treatments for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other neuropsychiatric conditions. The results of the GeneSight report help a clinician understand the way a patient’s unique genomic makeup may affect various psychiatric drugs. The analysis is based on pharmacogenomics, the study of genomic factors that influence an individual’s response to drug treatments. The customized GeneSight report of the patient’s genomic makeup can provide information to help a physician make personalized drug treatment choices for each patient.

Assurex will operate a certified clinical lab at the CAMH facilities in Toronto, where the initial effort will focus on testing 20,000 mental health patients in Ontario to improve their treatment outcomes and lower the cost of their healthcare. The test will also be commercially available after clinical trials, which will further document the clinical and economic value of the GeneSight test. And, with the research arm of CAMH fully engaged in the project, new markers and genomic discoveries will continue to improve the GeneSight test to include predictions of additional factors in psychological disorders, such as rapid weight gain, a side-effect that affects many patients.

This partnership has the potential to help millions of Canadians with mental illness avoid trial and error medication prescribing, which is an unfortunate reality for many patients. Recent studies show that only 30% of patients are initially prescribed a genetically appropriate psychiatric medication. This is costly to the health care system and to patients who suffer lost productivity, higher absenteeism, and family/relationship issues. With up to 60 million people in the US and Canada taking a psychotropic, ADHD, or analgesic medication, the North American neuropsychiatric pharmacogenomics market is estimated to be in excess of $4 billion.

GeneSight has a proven track record in the U.S. , and is reimbursed by a number of insurance companies as well as Medicare and Medicaid. U.S. Health data shows a 70% improvement in depressive symptoms when GeneSight testing is used to predict patient response to antidepressants, and a 28% reduction in health care costs. At Claremont Creek, we believe that this collaboration is just the beginning of a global outreach that will widely promote the use of personalized medicine in psychiatry.