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Medco, Quest Diagnostics Personalized Medicine Study Yields Additional Clues about Patient Engagement

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. and MONTREAL, Oct. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Medco Research Institute®, the research subsidiary of Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS), and Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX) announced their study showed a statistically significant increase in adherence to statin therapy over six months in patients receiving kinesin-like protein 6 (KIF6) gene testing, compared with those who did not.  The AKROBATS (Additional KIF6 Risk Offers Better Adherence to Statins) trial is the first "real-world" study designed to prospectively evaluate the impact of the KIF6 gene testing on patient adherence to cholesterol-lowering drugs.  Full data results are expected to be published or presented at an upcoming scientific congress by spring 2012.


The AKROBATS trial also is revealing new information on patient attitudes and perceptions about personalized medicine, including the factors that influence acceptance of gene testing for statin therapy and their overall preferences for participating in studies.  The results, presented today at the 61st American Society of Human Genetics conference in Montreal, Canada, showed that age, therapy prescribed, logistical considerations, and health beliefs may influence the decision to decline or accept genetic testing in clinical trials, researchers said.  A slight majority of participants entered the study because of the perceived value related to treating their condition.

"While we know about the important effect that statin therapy adherence has on the prevention of a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems, we now have the first data supporting a role for genetic testing as means of improving adherence for this widely-used class of drugs," said Dr. Eric Stanek, study senior investigator and vice president of research at Medco.  "This trial has also taught us a great deal about patients' receptiveness to personalized medicine testing and studies, as well as how to advance the science more effectively.  We learned that patients perceived clinical value in genetic testing although some patients expressed reservations about testing.  While much attention has been focused on privacy issues and fear of what genetic tests will say, those were not significant deterrents to testing."

Belief in the utility of genetic testing (53.8 percent), altruism (17.4 percent) and general interest (15.0 percent) drove trial participation from 682 patients, according to the study.  Of the 773 patients who declined to participate, 43.1 percent declined to state a reason or were generally not interested.  The lack of a perceived benefit (19.7 percent) and a lack of time (18.4 percent) were other factors of why some opted not to participate.  Privacy concerns (6.7 percent) and anxiety about the results of the test (8.8 percent) were not significant factors in the decision to decline study participation.  Participants in the study tended to be younger than those who declined (60 vs. 64) years of age.  Planning for the study began in 2009 with enrollment starting in 2010.  AKROBATS is registered on (NCT01068834)

"As pharmacogenetic testing advances, we need to understand patients' attitudes towards acceptance and reservations about it so we can develop effective patient communication and education strategies to support individualized decision making," Stanek said.

About Statin Adherence

Several recent studies have shown that non-adherence to cardiovascular medications, including statins, are a major public health issue and are associated with increased cardiovascular events, mortality and healthcare costs.  In fact, in a Medco study appearing in the American journal of Cardiology (June 2011), patients who took their statin medications more than 90 percent of the time had reduced total healthcare costs by as much as $944 over 18 months and experienced significantly lower risk of cardiovascular related hospitalizations.

About Quest Diagnostics and KIF6 testing by Berkeley HeartLab

Quest Diagnostics, the world's leading diagnostic testing company, offers genetic and non-genetic testing through Berkeley HeartLab, the company's business unit specializing in advanced cardiovascular disease testing. Berkeley HeartLab offers the 4myheart program, an educational program for patients that provides personalized care, including for medication adherence, to help patients improve their cardiac health. The KIF6 gene variant tested in the study has been shown to be associated with response to some statins.  

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About Medco

Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) is pioneering The world's most advanced pharmacy® and its clinical research and innovations are part of Medco making medicine smarter™ for approximately 65 million members.

With more than 20,000 employees worldwide dedicated to improving patient health and reducing costs for a wide range of public and private sector clients, and 2010 revenues of $66 billion, Medco ranks 34th on the 2011 Fortune 500 list and is named among the world's most innovative, most admired and most trustworthy companies. 

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This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the risks and uncertainties that affect our business, particularly those mentioned in the Risk Factors section of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
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