If the UK is a guide, rapid antigen test kits for Covid-19 could become as ubiquitous in the lives of Australians as QR codes – an essential key to accessing workplaces and places – and companies are lining up to cash.
The tests, which have a 15-minute turnaround time, have until now been primarily used in large workplaces, elderly care facilities and sensitive healthcare facilities because they had to be administered by a professional. of health.
But after Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that the tests could be available for home use from November 1, the market is set to explode.
With such a huge market, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has received dozens of requests over the past 12 months to import and sell different types of rapid antigenic tests.
Tests performed overseas must have an Australian sponsor, who is responsible for their compliance with local regulations.
And it’s not just well-known international therapeutic product companies looking to sell the products. A number of medical entrepreneurs and even some outside the medical field are hoping to gain market share.
Pantonic Health, run by the daughters of David Panton, the partner of former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, was one of the first to receive accreditation last September.
After 20 years in the operation of medical practices and pharmacies, the family business quickly appreciated the opportunities of the Covid pandemic and began to focus on the import and sale of the American Carestart rapid antigen test in partnership with Arrotex Pharmaceuticals.
“Pantonic already supplies CareStart test kits to various state and federal government departments, as well as many large companies across Australia,” a spokesperson said.
These include the Howard Springs facility, which was established by the Commonwealth to accommodate Australians returning from overseas on repatriation flights. The tests were also used by large companies, including Fortescue Metals Group, Qantas, Lendlease and Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the spokesperson said.
The company claims that its tests have been shown to be very sensitive to the Delta variant and have a very low false positive rate of just 0.01%. It is now gearing up for a sales boom and has already received 3,000 school inquiries.
Another newcomer is Suretest, founded by Dr Peter Lewis, whose website describes him as “an internationally recognized regenerative medicine physician”.
Lewis runs a clinic in Malvern, Melbourne, which offers a range of services, including platelet-rich plasma therapies, which he uses to treat erectile dysfunction, hair loss and degenerative injuries.
Lewis is also the current President of the Australian Ringside Medical Association and the Medical President of most boxing and kickboxing bouts in Victoria.
Lewis has been a strong advocate for rapid antigen testing in the media, regularly calling for its deployment to Australia.
“We have a significant laboratory setback for antigen testing,” he told Age in January.
“Anyone associated with a lab says PCR is the gold standard and it’s absolutely true, but if you’re a doctor like me and treating patients you want a test that allows you to quickly separate those who are infected and those who are not, ”he said.
Lewis requested the importation of rapid antigenic tests produced in China by the Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co.
Lewis said he was delighted to learn that the rapid antigen test can now be sold for home use.
“I have a warehouse full of tests and would like to start selling them tomorrow. These tests have been available for quite some time and they will be really useful in this potentially deadly and destructive pandemic of the economy, ”he said.
Another relative newcomer is Hough Pharma, which has been featured in the Andrew Bolt report on Sky and on News Corp. websites.
Hough’s Managing Director is Greg Hough, a former managing director of media company APN, who has spent time in the United States at various companies including event management and selling an all-natural veterinary supplement for pets, before running Hough Pharma on the Gold Coast. .
His company imports the Biohit Healthcare test, also produced in China.
The company claims the testing system offers a “plug and play results reporting system that will send results directly to a person’s phone for storage in their online wallet.”
Other companies, such as Allsafe Medical and Pharma Soul, headed by Jake Golman, 24, from Vaucluse, were created at the start of the pandemic to import protective equipment and have now turned to importing testing for ‘antigens.
The TGA used the Doherty Institute to evaluate all the tests and their reports show that the reliability of the tests can vary widely.
A number, mostly from China, have already been pulled by their sponsoring Australian importers after poor reliability results.