March 16, 2010 / 12:04 PM / in 8 years

Gene test can cut warfarin hospitalizations

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Use of genetic screening on heart patients helped cut hospitalizations related to the widely used blood thinner warfarin by nearly a third, according to a large study that marks a step forward in the fledgling field of personalized medicine.

Researchers found that patients who received a test of two genes connected to warfarin sensitivity were 31 percent less likely to be hospitalized for any cause during the first six months of the drug’s use.

They were 28 percent less likely to be hospitalized for a bleeding episode or blood clot than those whose safe and effective warfarin dosing was determined by traditional trial and error method.

“What we find so wonderful about this is it’s really harnessing the power of new science to reduce healthcare costs,” Robert Epstein, chief medical officer for the study’s sponsor, Medco Health Solutions Inc, said in an interview.

A subanalysis of the data found that if it excluded hospitalizations that occurred prior to genotyping, the argument for genetic screening was even stronger.

In that group, patients had a 43 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for bleeding or blood clot than those who did not receive the gene testing.

Reporting by Bill Berkrot and Debra Sherman; Editing by Derek Caney

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