There should be a new product on the shelves the next time you're in the health and beauty aids section of your favorite store. OraSure Technologies (Nasdaq: OSUR ) hit the retail market nationwide on Wednesday with its in-home HIV test.
The company's OraQuick test is the first rapid infectious disease test to be sold directly to customers for in-home use. The FDA approved the test, which detects HIV antibodies with an oral swab, as an over-the-counter product in July.
OraSure shares shot up around 5% in intraday trading on the news about OraQuick's retail availability. However, the stock still needs to climb another 30% to reach its highs made following the FDA approval in July.
Of course, retail availability doesn't necessarily translate to retail saleability. OraSure appears to be making the right moves to improve the likelihood of success, though.
OraSure went big with the launch, securing relationships with major players including CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS ) , Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD ) , Walgreen (NYSE: WAG ) and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) . The HIV test will be available in 30,000 stores nationwide and online. Customers can access live support services 24 hours a day via a toll-free line or a special web site.
The company also announced an ongoing public awareness campaign to encourage individuals to learn their HIV statuses in conjunction with the retail launch. OraSure engaged a "high-profile celebrity" as part of this campaign, although the identity of this person remains confidential for now.
Fellow Fool Max Macaluso recently pointed out how several events this summer provided free publicity to OraSure in advance of its product launch in stores. The FDA even helped out, in a way. Its approval of Truvada, an HIV prevention drug made by Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD ) , brought more attention to HIV awareness.
Spitting in the wind?
Not everyone views OraSure's in-home test in an overly favorable light. In an editorial published yesterday in Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. David Paltiel and Dr. Rochelle Walensky expressed some concerns.
The authors didn't object to the in-home test itself, but they questioned how big of an impact it would really make. In particular, Dr. Paltiel and Dr. Walensky felt that the test would appeal largely to affluent persons at low risk for HIV and those with undetectable recent exposure to the virus.
These concerns and others included in the editorial raise doubts about how much OraSure's in-home test will improve the outlook for HIV in the U.S. However, the authors noted the public enthusiasm for the FDA approval of OraQuick and don't question its potential for commercial success.
What's in store
My prediction is that OraSure scores with the retail launch of OraQuick. The convenience of getting results within 20 minutes in the privacy of the home should justify the $39 price tag for a lot of people.
While there's always a risk that sales don't take off, OraSure seems positioned to do well. This is one stock that just might fly off the shelves along with its product.
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