VA to begin genetic testing in North Carolina

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wants to test 250,000 veterans by 2022 in an effort to find which medicines are best for them.

The VA is partnering with a South Dakota-based nonprofit health system, Sanford Health, to make the testing available.

Dr. Deepak Voora, a VA physician, said, "We're going to be starting in Durham North Carolina in the coming months."

The blood tests would look for genetic differences in people and highlight when those differences could cause a bad reaction with medicine.

Voora said, "It can make a huge impact. It could be the difference between living with depression symptoms or not, living with pain or not."

Sanford Health and philanthropist Denny Sanford are giving tens of millions of dollars for this testing, and will process blood samples from the VA in their South Dakota lab.

Sanford Health Executive Vice President Micah Aberson said, "90 percent plus of the patients who have taken the test have found something that will inform their future healthcare, it will inform their future drug delivery."

The VA hasn't yet said where the test will be available beyond Durham, North Carolina, but hopes to expand it nationwide.