Sunday, February 16, 2014

Genesight Testing for Medication Guidance

Recently I attended a support group where I learned about Genesight testing from Assurex Health. This testing uses pharmacogenomic technology to look at your genetic makeup and determine which medications may be the best based on your DNA. It’s easy to administer, just a cheek swab and a few weeks waiting while it’s sent to the lab. The testing specifically looks at medications used to treat behavior health conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I also know of a local doctor that’s testing his autistic patients. Basically the test helps determine what meds to try and what meds to avoid. This sparked my curiosity to say the least.

My friend had her son tested and shared the results with our group. It outlined 3 categories of medications: “green” (use as directed), “yellow” (use with caution) or “red” (use with increased caution). It also was able to determine if folic acid was being metabolized properly. According to my friend’s doctor, folic acid is important for the brain when it comes to utilizing the medications given to the brain. In my friend’s case, they determined that his body wasn’t metabolizing the folic acid effectively, thus explaining why for years the meds weren’t as affective as they should’ve been. The doctor is now able to address the folic acid deficiency with a form of supplemental folic acid that’s already broken down so it can easily be absorbed.

The idea behind this testing is that doctors can receive individual insight into each patient and make better medication decisions, thus minimizing the trial and error method. Wouldn’t that be a blessing! To think we could’ve avoided some of the bad interactions we experienced over the years. This is definitely worth looking into. At this point, I’m not advocating this test, but just wanted to share with you what I found. I’ve requested this testing for both of my boys and look forward to discussing it further with our psychiatrist later this week. I’ll let you know if we pursue it and if we do, I’ll share our results.

If you have experience with this test, please share with us below!

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Gene test can help recommend best psychiatric medications for patients

47 comments:

  1. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing this, The whole folic acid thing was brought up by our neurologist back in July but she said to test for it you had to do a spinal tap. I'm going to have to ask her why that is necessary if you can do the same thing (at least I'm assuming it is the same thing) with a cheek swab. I heard someone else say they tested for it with a blood test. I guess I have some research to do!

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    1. Let us know what you find out!

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    2. You absolutely do NOT need a spinal tap to find out of you cannot metabolize folic acid correctly. Ridiculous! I cannot believe how uneducated most doctors are. They're simply put to make money.
      Anyways, you can find out of you carry a certain mutation by having your saliva tested by a company called : 23andme
      It has been the single most important test I've ever had done. I found out that I do not metabolize folic acid (which is actually a synthetic compound). I need to take the "active" supplement/version of folate, known as 5-MTHF, methyltetrahydrofolate. Please, find a different doctor!

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  2. Very interesting, thank you for sharing this. My son is 8 and diagnosed with Biploar, ADHD and anxiety. We have been trying to find the right combination of drugs for several years and still trying to get it right. My child has the opposite effect from the medications, all he wants to do is eat and has gained a fair amount of weight.
    I will bring this up with his Dr next visit. Thanks again!

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  3. Inspiring. I just requested more information on Genesight tonight. I'm interested to know more. Being a partial mood disorder, partial schizophrenic, I know from experience how difficult getting the medication right can be. I am interested to hear your story.

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    1. Hi Mark, let me know if you do the testing and if it was helpful. I have had several friends do it with their kids, but I have yet to do it myself.

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  4. Inspiring. I am interested to know how this goes for you. Being a partial mood disorder, partial schizophrenic, I know how difficult it can be to find the right medication. in fact i'm reaching out tonight to genesight to find some guidance in my situation. Let us know how this goes, this is very interesting.

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  5. In a visit with my psychiatrist last week I took a moment away from my concerns regarding benzodiazepines & their long term use to give her a thumbnail sketch concerning the current situation for my grandson, age 14. I explained in broad strokes that his acting out had escalated to the point of requiring admission to an acute level of inpatient care for adolescents in our area. I was especially concerned as to what medications might be recommended during the "stabilization" process. My doctor told me about GeneSight & the benefit of results indicating 3 levels to guide choice & dosage of any medication consideration (use as directed, use w/caution, & use w/increased caution). I'm especially sensitive to psychopharmacology issues after dealing w/a mental illness diagnosis for the past 21 years while evolving into MH advocacy during the last decade. When my grandson was put on Prozac 10 days ago, I knew it to be an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and I was also aware of this neurotransmitter being present in the "gut" as well as the brain. While not being anti-pharma, I do remain concerned about the number & ages of children being prescribed psychotropic medications currently. I do hope this testing will go forward for my grandson even as he is being stepped-down from acute in order to enter an inpatient program for dual diagnosis that also includes his educational needs. This situation did not arise overnight and will take care & time to be ameliorated...with much of the work resting on young shoulders...albeit with loving parents and siblings. I will be happy to share the results when they become available. As a postscript of sorts, I'd like to add that I wish this testing had been available for me at the beginning of my journey. That wish is not stated here as a regret, but as an underscore for anyone trying to decide if the testing is worth looking into. My answer would be: any tool I can put in my toolbox is decidedly worth investigating. I believe mental wellness to be as open to flux as physical wellness. All tools for understanding & being as proactive as possible are welcome. I would also like to add that I am extremely pleased to have found your blog, Mama Bear. Certainly the ways we learn are changing and exchanging ideas via social media is proof that any learning equation benefits from collaboration.

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    1. Hi Pam, Looks like your post was a success! Sorry you had trouble with it. I agree with you that any tool available is worth exploring. What is also nice about this testing is that it applies for the rest of your life since it is related to your genetic make up. I know of 4 families that have done it with their kids in my support group. The results have been interesting. Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope to hear from you again!
      Love,
      Mama Bear

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  6. considering this testing. We were going to go do it next week but then i found out about the $$. So we have to go thru the hoops and if insurance doesn't cover it is much less.. MUCH. LESS. But i was wondering who HAS used this testing and found it USEFUL.

    I called up to ask other questions such as, "my son is in antibiotics for strep right now and he is already on an SSRI so will that effect the testing?" She said.. what's an SSRI? ok.. well i know it was just someone answering the phone. But still. I suppose if it is genetic testing then genes are genes and it wouldn't

    But i would love to hear some success stories, not just the studies on the web page.

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    1. I know of 5 families personally that have done the testing. It has helped them make decision when choosing the next med to try, they refer to the data sheet produced and review the list and avoid any drugs that are listed with a warning. I think for these families it provides some peace of mind as they make tough decisions. But I still think you always have to proceed with caution when it comes to meds. I haven't done the test yet either due to cost. I have seen it cost as low as $50 and as high as $3000, it depends upon your insurance and income bracket.

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  7. Back in February, Erin was wondering about ways to test for "the folic acid thing." I'm wondering what she found out. Here's my understanding: When we ingest folic acid, it is in a form that cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, to enter the brain, where it needs to go to help create seratonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. If we don't create enough of these, any antidepressant can only do so much, as it has to work with the neurotransmitters already present. The gene segments responsible for instructing the body on how to properly metabolize folic acid so it is usable in the brain have been identified. This is why cheek swabs can be used: DNA can be isolated from the tiny tissue sample on the swab, and it is then inspected in the lab to see if there are mutations on what's called the MTHFR gene- the one responsible for Folic Acid metabolism. A person may have no mutations, one, or two. If they have a mutation affecting their use of folic acid, it is available in an already-metabolized form, so that when swallowed, it is already capable of crossing the barrier to the brain. For some people, finding out they have this mutation and beginning to take folic acid that's usable by their body is the missing puzzle piece- their antidepressant begins to work much better- because the brain has begun to make neurotransmitters in correct amounts for the antidepressant to act upon. Hope I got all this right. : )

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  8. How is this a blog? The posts and comments sound straight from genesights marketing material. I'm guessing
    Mama Bear is on the payroll.

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    1. Lol! I am not on a payroll, just a desperate parent trying to help her kids. If you spent any time on this blog you would know that this is the long journey of my experience raising my kids and looking at all that is available to help them. I have completed 600 posts and this is the only time I wrote about Genesight testing, if I was working for them, I would be doing a lousy job!

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  9. Our mental health provider learned about this test weeks ago and when we were in for our appoint, because again we were dealing with issues-this time serious seasonal depression, she suggested it. We have a long story but to keep it short our son has been helped best by a mood stabilizer. Anytime we have tried to get at anxiety, adhd(focus) or obsessive behaviors and add in a med he gets worse (increased anger/mixed states) so we have to discontinue the med. I love the results of this test and even though we have spent near 9 years playing the guessing game~ this test gave confirmation on medications that didn't work or made him worse as well as insight on which medication(s) would be a better fit. I am not sure on cost. Thinking if our insurance does not pay for it, we will fall in the sliding fee scale. In our situation this test is well worth the $ as we have spent hundreds of dollars on meds that have not worked and have had to dispose of them...or another words wasting $ and a lot of valuable time.

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    1. Let us know how it goes if you try it!

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  10. I am a 41 year old man who recently had the genesight test done. I have battled for years with depression with little success. The test came back with all the meds I have taken over the years being in the red column. So I was optimistic. Only two were in the green column. Pristiq was one. I was prescribed pristiq along with deplin as I too was deficient in folic acid. Sadly, this did absolutely nothing for my depression. It actually made it worse along with even more side effects. So i am now back to the old drawing board. This was my experience with the test. Hope it helps..good luck

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, I know that it will be helpful to those who are considering the test. I hope you find what will work soon so you can feel better.

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  11. I just had this test done on my son. I received the results today. Every medication he is on is listed as use with caution!?!? My son has been in an acute care twice in 2 months because of medications causing major anxiety and mania and oh so many other things!! He's 10! We have an appointment with his psychiatrist in a couple of weeks. Hoping when he interprets the results we can get some meds that will work for my kiddo. As of right now he is diagnosed with ADHD Combined Type, Anxiety Disorder, Mood Disorder, and recently Impulse Control Disorder....
    Let me tell you I have some stories too! I say go for the test, it can't hurt! I know several parents who have done it and are beginning to see some light at the end of that tunnel for their babies!

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    1. Let us know how it goes after you meet with your doctor and make changes based on the test. I hope it works!

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  12. Gensight has been a GOD send! The test confirmed everything I thought. My son has a liver enzyme missing that breaks down certain medications. This showed up in the test. We have tried so many meds over the years. I received the results last night. His profile showed that his body would be best with a completely different class of medication . It confirmed that the side effects from all the other medications he has been on were real and his body was breaking it down all wrong. Please try genesight. Some of the medications we tried over the years could have been very dangerous for him.

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  13. There are other companies out there besides Genesight that do the testing!

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  14. My 16yr old son has anxiety, depression, mood disorder nos, ptsd and has been treated for 9 yrs by several doctors and a lot of meds, including Zoloft, respirdal, trileptal, seroquel, celexa and currently has been on Abilify since January. In the last year he has been in admitted twice for inpatient and then again 3 weeks ago for partial treatment program. We don't feel that his med is helping him at all. He is erratic, up and down emotionally and just plain sad. I had this test done last night and cannot wait for results and praying to find answers for what will help him most.

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    1. I hope you get the answers you need and a solution for treatment through this!

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  15. I am having trouble finding out if my insurance covers this they did'nt know what the test was at my wits end can you help

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    1. You might want to contact the company at https://assurexhealth.com

      I gave this website to my doctor and she was able to look into from there. Maybe you can do the same with your insurance company.

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  16. I had the GeneSight test done as well and I found that I am missing an enzyme in my liver that breaks down >50% of psychotropic medications as well. I only had four antidepressants in my green bin and I switched to one (Pristiq). I had been on Cymbalta previously (in my red bin) and it gave me terrible side effects, including a resting hand tremor.

    Full disclosure, though, I work for Assurex Health. They give all of their employees the test for free so we can see how it works. It has helped my quality of life, for sure...even though Pristiq is definitely more expensive each month.

    I would love to answer more questions about GeneSight if anyone has any questions. I am a scientist and I do know all of the science behind unlike a lot of the women that answer the phone. I'm sorry to the person who called and the person didn't know what an SSRI was.

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  17. My psychiatrist ordered this test for me to determine which antidepressant to use. I was skeptical that DNA could actually do this. My skepticism was confirmed when my doctor handed me a copy of the results of my test. I read through the entire 4 page report. On page 3 in fine print there was a disclaimer that says "The information in this report is provided as a service AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE MEDICAL ADVICE"! That's right, the company that performs the test admits that the information contained in their test is NOT MEDICAL ADVICE! The purpose of the test is to tell doctors which drugs will work the best. How can Assurex Health sell this test and then claim that they are not giving medical advice? This is a fraudulent test performed by a fraudulent company. I've reported this to my state's medical board as I believe this constitutes insurance fraud.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Matt, let us know if you hear from your state's medical board.

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    2. FYI, any form of medical testing does not constitute medical advice. It's up to a doctor to assess the results of those tests and give medical advice.

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    3. When I get my lab test results for lipids, testosterone, etc. the lab report tells whether the value is high, low, or normal for each item measured. That is medical advice in my opinion. It's also medical advice when you supply a doctor with information that's supposed to direct them to which drug to prescribe. If it isn't medical advice then what is the purpose?

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    4. 8 clinical trials looking at both the clinical and economic utility of Genesight would say that it certainly is not a "fradulent" test.
      Say that it is not medical advice simply means, that you the patient, shouldn't interpret the results to decide what medication you are on. It is a TOOL for your health care provider to us. And a damn good one.
      Good luck with that state review board thing. Tell us how that works out for you.

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  18. Be very careful to do your research. There are very negative outcomes from relying on this testing as well. Research Dr Peter Breggin, psychiatrist, Dr. Caroline Leaf neuroscientist, Dr Abram Hoffer, psychiatrist, Bruce Lipton, and Robert Whitaker
    ( Anatomy of an epidemic) . The long term harm being done to people through many of these drugs is overwhelming, but not made public. We have personally seen loved ones loose everything. It's a painful journey. But Dr. Peter Breggin and Leaf and others are seeing hundreds recover without drugs. Worth researching for the sake of our loved onea.

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  19. my nineteen year old daughter was told by her new psychiatrist that this test would be covered by our insurance--Medicaid, but now I think that is not true and am worried how much we are going to get billed!

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    1. I hope it isn't bad. I know it was too expensive under our regular insurance plan for us to try at the time I looked into it. I should see if Medi-Cal covers it now that my youngest has that.

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    2. You will not receive any bill if your insurance is medicaid. It doesn't matter if medicaid in your state covers the testing or not. The patient responsibility will be $0

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  20. I found this all very interesting I just did a test today. I have faith it will help me..

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  22. I have been reading through the comments, and it doesn't sound like you have had the testing for your son yet ? Just wondering if you decided to go through with it, and if you felt the results were what you were hoping for.

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    1. Hi Missy, You are correct, I myself have not had the testing done for my kids. At the time of looking into it, we could not afford our out-of-pocket costs, so we put it on hold. Since then, we have found effective medications and my kids are stable and we are no longer exploring medication options. So at this time, we aren't needing to do this. I have personally known a few families that have tried it and found the results helpful for them in choosing their next medication trial and what meds to avoid. If I do ever revisit this option and try it out, I will definitely write a post about it and share with everyone.

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  23. I just received the package from our doctor. Looks like the testing is $330.00 from Genesight and they have a payment plan of $29 a month. Cant beat that. I will mortgage my house to pay it at this point.

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