Ameritox sees a new business opportunity in mental illness. The Baltimore-based laboratory that focuses on drug testing primarily in the opioid and pain-management arena has established a new division solely devoted to testing for patient adherence to anti-psychotic medications. Ingenuity Health is based at Ameritox headquarters and will use its existing testing facilities. Ingenuity Health President Jerry Vaccaro, M.D., a psychiatrist by training, was formerly president and chief operating officer of APS Healthcare, a White Plans, N.Y.-based firm that focuses on disease management, behavioral health, and informatics. Ameritox officials say Ingenuity Health will try to leverage—and perhaps mitigate—a sad fact among those Americans with mental illness: that despite the fact there have been huge strides in recent years regarding advances in psychotropic medications, about half of those patients prescribed such drugs don’t adhere to their regimens. Academic literature suggests that many patients consider themselves “cured” after the symptoms of their mental illness diminish, prompting them to stop taking the medication, or they are disturbed by the side effects. Partly as a result, about 13,000 suicides and about half of the mass killings in the United States every year are linked to untreated mental illness. “Knowing whether a patient diagnosed with serious mental illness is taking their medication is an essential part of treatment and prevention of human tragedy,” said Scott Walton, Ameritox’s chief executive officer. Lon Wagner, an Ameritox spokesperson, said that the company sees testing for anti-psychotic drugs as a “very big need,” which is among the reasons for the creation of a new company. Such testing could “make a big difference with successful treatment,” he added. For now, Ameritox is playing its new business close to the vest. Wagner, who noted that the space has become very competitive very quickly, declined to disclose any information about projected test volumes, or even how many employees are with Ingenuity Health, only that new hires have occurred. He also declined to release any pricing for the tests. Ingenuity Health is screening for eight different drugs used to treat patients with mental health issues, including Haldol, Risperdal, and Seroquel. They can be tested for absence or presence in a patient only. However, Ingenuity Health will also use a proprietary test developed by Ameritox to detect the presence of Aripiprazole, which is used to treat schizophrenia and is marketed under the name of Abilify. Unlike the assays for the other drugs, the Abilify test can determine whether the levels of the drug in the patient’s bloodstream are consistent with levels that suggest appropriate prescription adherence. Wagner said that most of Ingenuity Health’s clients would be psychiatrists treating patients and tracking their progress. The testing would allow them to take the guesswork out of whether their patients are taking the medications they have prescribed. “What we would hope is that this leads to a good conversation with the doctor and the patient about what their circumstances are,” Wagner said. It lets the clinicians be clinicians.” Takeaway: Testing for adherence to anti-psychotic drugs and other medications that treat mental illness could grow rapidly.