Medco probes usefulness of markers for antipsychotics

The Medco Research Institute, the R&D arm of the giant pharmaceutical benefit manager, is mounting a clinical trial of a set of biomarkers from SureGene to determine whether variations in the markers can help guide the use of antipsychotic medicines.

Medco has developed one of the most ambitious biomarker efforts in the country, putting the technology in play to help identify the best medicines available for what ails its members. And antipsychotics for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses are often ineffective when tried on a patient.

Medco wants to develop new genetic tests that can eliminate much of the guesswork, as well as a mountain of wasted cash, involved in prescribing drugs. Researchers will use 2,000 DNA samples to validate the biomarkers and examine the cost effectiveness of their use.

This study is Medco's first personalized medicine research effort in the area of mental illness, according to a company statement.  Medco has also conducted such research regarding genetic factors affecting patient responses to medications used to treat cardiovascular disease, such as warfarin and clopidogrel.

- see the Medco release
- here's the story from the Star-Ledger