A new coronavirus test from Becton Dickinson (BDX 0.54%) can deliver results about 15 minutes after a healthcare provider drops a person's blood sample in the test kit. The new test was developed by BioMedomics, a privately held company based in North Carolina that will also manufacture the point-of-care diagnostic.
Unlike a recently approved point-of-care test from Abbott (ABT 0.27%) that looks for genetic material specific to SARS-CoV-2, Becton Dickinson's new test looks for some of the proteins produced from that genetic material. On Sunday, the FDA authorized the use of a rapid test that runs on Abbott's toaster-sized nucleic acid amplification machines, which are already in use by healthcare providers across the U.S.
Becton Dickinson's new antibody test hasn't been reviewed by the FDA, but the company will be allowed to distribute it immediately to U.S. healthcare providers thanks to emergency guidance issued by the regulator in March. However, that guidance also makes it clear that results from antibody tests -- whether performed at an urgent care center or a giant laboratory -- should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose a patient or inform them of their infection status.
Becton Dickinson's more widely known for marketing infusion systems than diagnostic tests. Sales of the company's popular Alaris systems, which are used by a majority of healthcare providers in the U.S., are under pressure at the moment. And investors hoping that this new COVID-19 test will offset the decreasing revenue from the infusion system line could be disappointed.
Healthcare providers can order the new coronavirus antibody test from Becton Dickinson, although a company with more experience in the point-of-care diagnostics field, Henry Schein will distribute the test exclusively.