Becton Dickinson Is Developing Rapid Covid Test for Use at Home

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Becton Dickinson & Co. said it is developing a rapid at-home Covid-19 test, a move that brings a new entrant with powerful manufacturing capabilities to a market with many smaller players.

The Franklin Lakes, New Jersey-based company, already a major seller of Covid-19 tests for use in medical settings, plans to produce what’s known as a lateral flow antigen test, which is similar to at-home pregnancy screenings.

Becton Dickinson is partnering with closely held Scanwell Health on a smartphone application that will walk users through the process and provide results. Many at-home tests are performed with a swab.

The company is very focused on how virus tests can be used next, Dave Hickey, its president of life sciences, said in an interview Friday. That includes such things as home testing, testing for those without symptoms, and rapid tests for Covid and flu, he said.

“There’s a real commitment to the next wave of testing, particularly in these decentralized settings,” Hickey said. “We’re obviously very conscious around, what’s the level of clinical performance that you’ve got to achieve for these tests to have real meaningful use in those settings.”

Covid-19 tests, once in short supply in the U.S., have become far more plentiful in the last year. Still, experts and President Joe Biden’s administration say there’s an urgent need to make screenings more easily available, including for home use and without a prescription.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared a few at-home tests since late last year, widespread access has remained elusive. One such product from East Brisbane, Australia-based Ellume, which was cleared in December and doesn’t require a prescription, wasn’t yet available in the U.S. as of Feb. 1, a spokeswoman said in an email.

Another player is Abbott Laboratories, which also got U.S. authorization for at-home use of its rapid BinaxNow test in December. The screenings are available for purchase in a pack of six for $150 through a partner, eMed, which virtually prescribes the tests and walks users through the process.

One concern regulators have had about at-home tests is that their results could go unreported to public health officials. Becton Dickinson and Scanwell Health plan to use the mobile app so test results are automatically shared with agencies, the companies said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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