Andrew Lukowiak is CEO of Millennium Health, an accredited specialty laboratory with over a decade of experience in medication monitoring and drug testing services, allowing clinicians to monitor use of prescription medications and/or illicit drugs and effectiveness of treatment plans. Millennium’s genetic testing services, including pharmacogenetic testing, help clinicians make more informed medication choices.
Lukowiak became CEO in March of 2018. He has 20 years of experience in the molecular diagnostics space. Before joining Millennium Health, Lukowiak was CEO and COO of AltheaDx. Prior to that, he held a variety of management positions at various companies including GenmarkDX and Hologic.
You had a report on drug use trends. What did you find?
The report, titled the Millennium Health Signals Report, described several trends, but one of particular note was related to the abuse of fentanyl in the U.S. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, relatively easy to manufacture, and considerably more potent than oxycodone. Our analysis showed an increasing co-occurrence of non-prescribed fentanyl with heroin, from only 2% of specimens in 2013 to nearly 40% of the specimens in 2018.
We followed up our initial report with a second publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, in which our clinical team describes an increase in the presence of non-prescribed fentanyl in specimens also positive for cocaine or methamphetamine in this same time frame as well. The addition of fentanyl to other drugs may be deliberate or unintentional (through contamination) and can have fatal consequences to users. This dramatic rise in the co-occurrence of fentanyl with other illicit drugs represents a growing threat to public health and safety, and we anticipate our data can provide additional insights for improving both health-care policies and clinical outcomes.
Does Millennium have a role in dealing with the opioid crisis beyond monitoring use?
Beyond monitoring drug use, Millennium Health is committed to being an industry leader in the education of health-care providers. This year alone we offered nearly sixty educational programs attended by clinicians nationwide across multiple specialties including pain management, primary care, addiction medicine and behavioral health. These sessions covered relevant and challenging issues such as managing risk in chronic pain and trends in emerging drugs of abuse. Complementary to our educational programs, we recently updated our online test management system, Intellium, to include the integration of on-demand educational materials and practice-specific data analytics to provide health-care providers independent learning options for some of the most significant topics in toxicology.
Does Millennium have any difficulties in finding qualified workers?
With unemployment rates currently below 4% in San Diego, talent management, recruitment, and retention are key areas of focus for the company. Fortunately, the talent pool here in San Diego is strong, so qualified employees can often be identified locally. The one exception would be clinical laboratory scientists, or CLSs, which are state-credentialed scientists allowed to report clinical test results to physicians, that are in demand throughout the country. In order to ensure our needs for CLSs can keep pace with growth, Millennium Health has developed an internal training program allowing the company to identify and develop employees to be eligible for credentialing.
Do you have any local or national competitors?
Competition in the drug testing space is diverse, ranging from large national laboratories that cover everything from cholesterol testing to cancer screening to small niche laboratories operating in highly localized geographies. Our laboratory is different in that it has the operational size and scale to operate at the national level, while maintaining a dedicated commitment to customer service and clinical support. Consequently, we believe that Millennium Health holds a unique position in the market, by serving as a national laboratory specializing in one of the most complex and relevant health care crises going on in the U.S. today.
Any plans for the future that you could share with us?
Through our commitments to clinical innovation, customer experience and compliance, we believe Millennium Health to be the leader within the specialty drug testing market today. However, years from now, we hope our organization will be known for having set the standard for compliant, medically-necessary testing throughout the industry.
Some say that abuse concerns are leading doctors to hesitate to prescribe opioids. Is it difficult to separate abuse of opioids from needed treatment with opioids for pain?
Prescriptions for opioids have decreased sharply over the past few years and clinicians today are prescribing opioids with great care as awareness has grown about opioid abuse and overdose deaths. However, abuse and overdoses related to opioids are largely due to illicit substance combinations and nonmedical use. Opioids remain an important treatment option for patients with moderate to severe pain, thus just a reduction in prescribing should also be a serious concern as patients with pain may now suffer as a result of efforts to address the abuse and overdose problem. Millennium has more than a decade of experience specializing in medication monitoring services. We have maintained a strong dedication to providing best-in-class drug testing services and clinical resource support for our customers, both those prescribing opioids and those helping patients remain abstinent from opioids and other drugs of abuse.