What You Need to Know
- Grail is part of Illumina.
- Illumina says the Galleri test generated $10 million in test fees and prescribing partner fees in the fourth quarter.
- The test results could help life insurance underwriting, or hurt it.
The company marketing the new Galleri cancer detection test is getting closer to making it a routine part of the life insurance underwriting backdrop.
The marketer, Grail, announced earlier this week that Point32Health, a large health plan, has agreed to test the Galleri test and see what happens.
Point32Health is the first commercial health plan to announce a Galleri test.
If Grail is correct about the Galleri test, it could revolutionize detection of dozens of types of cancer, including ovarian and pancreatic cancers, and lead to a sharp drop in cancer mortality, by helping doctors find and monitor cancers early, when the cancers are easy to control and treat.
The test could also shake up the life insurance underwriting process by giving patients critical information about their health that underwriters might not necessarily have.
Galleri, Grail and Illumina
The Galleri test searches the blood for “cell-free nucleic acids,” or scraps of cancer cell DNA and RNA. The test is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but trials show the test can detect about 50 different types of cancer, including ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer and sarcoma.
Large Galleri trials are underway in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Grail, the marketer of the Galleri test, is a Menlo Park, California-based arm of Illumina, a large genetic sequencing systems company.
Grail has already started selling Galleri tests, at $949 each, to U.S. patients who can pay for tests without using health insurance.
That compares with a list price of about $500 for providing and processing a home colon cancer test kit, and an average self-pay price of about $3,000 for a colonoscopy.
Illumina executives said earlier this month, on a conference call with securities analysts, that Grail generated $10 million in revenue in the fourth quarter from Galleri test fees and payments from organizations that want to prescribe the test.
Although Point32Health is the first commercial health plan that has announced a Galleri testing deal, many large employers and payers are interesting covering Galleri tests, the executives said.
Point32Health is the nonprofit, Canton, Massachusetts-based health plan formed by the merger of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Community Health Plan.