Becton Dickinson To Ramp Up Rapid Covid-19 Tests To 12 Million A Month

Becton Dickinson said production of its recently approved rapid test for the coronavirus strain Covid-19 will ramp up to 12 million tests per month by the end of February 2021.

The need for such tests continue to be important in the U.S. and around the world as cases of Covid-19 continue to surge and Americans in particular see hot spots in Florida, Texas, Arizona and elsewhere where there are waits to get tests.

Becton’s “point-of-care antigen” BD Veritor System, which received an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month, joins rivals made by Abbott Laboratories and others that can quickly produce results so patients know whether they have the virus or not. That, medical care providers say, is key to getting treatment as quickly as possible and curbing the spread of the virus.

In the case of the BD Veritor System, the company says the launch of the new assay confirms active Covid-19 infection in 15 minutes, thus “enabling real-time results and decision making while the patient is still onsite,” executives have said.

Becton Dickinson chief executive Tom Polen said Thursday morning during the company’s fiscal third quarter earnings call that the company expects to deliver 10 million such rapid tests by September. Becton Dickinson said the average price of the test is $20 each to customers.

Becton Dickinson said it has shipped more Veritor tests so far than it does in an “entire year.”

The Veritor system joins a portfolio of diagnostic tests Becton Dickinson is already producing, including its BD Max system platform found in hospitals and large reference labs. The company is currently producing 1 million such tests a month with plans to ramp up such production to 1.9 million by the end of calendar 2020, the company said.

“We have continued strong demand for our products that support the global Covid-19 response, including the recent launch of our Covid-19 rapid point-of-care antigen test and our partnerships with governments around the world to help prepare for national vaccination programs,” Polen said Thursday.

The rapid Covid-19 antigen test and other products related to the pandemic were bright spots in Becton Dickinson’s fiscal third quarter given sales and profits were down in the period due in part to less demand for medication delivery and other devices. Medical device makers have been hurt by fewer elective surgeries and related procedures as government shut down orders have caused hospitals to free up capacity for Covid-19 patients.

“BD is playing an essential role enabling the world’s response to COVID-19, and I’m confident the steps we are taking now will put BD in the best possible position for the long term,” Polen said. “We believe the diversity of our portfolio of leading technologies, the strength and scale of our manufacturing infrastructure and the passion and determination of our team make us a stronger partner for our customers and their patients at this consequential time.”

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