Company Wants To Take HIV Test OTC

Discussion
Apr 26, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The chief executive of OraSure Technologies, Mike Gausling, wants his company’s OraQuick rapid HIV test to be made available to consumers without prescription.

Mr. Gausling and others argue that the product is easy to use, requiring only a drop of blood or a saliva sample, testing can be completed in minutes and results are 99 percent
accurate.

Before Orasure Technologies ever gets its product approved for sale over-the-counter (OTC), however, it will have to overcome strong opposition to home HIV testing from professional
laboratories and HIV counselors.

Laboratories argue something as important as testing for HIV needs to be done by professionals.

Not all buy the arguments being put forth by opponents to home testing.

The Morning Call, citing Ronald Bayer, a public health professor at Columbia University in New York as its source, reported, “The arguments put forth by those against
home HIV testing are similar to those used more than a quarter-century ago in debates about home pregnancy tests.”

Health counselors specializing in HIV express concern that those testing positive will fail to make the right treatment choices or go as far as suicide if tests are conducted
privately at home.

Dr. Tim Friel, an infectious disease specialist at Lehigh Valley Hospital said, “I’ve been there. I’ve delivered the news. I just don’t think you can provide that message adequately
on a package insert.”

Moderator’s Comment: Should rapid tests for HIV such as OraQuick be sold over-the-counter (OTC) in retail stores?

Orasure’s Gausling told The Morning Call, “Saving lives and stopping the spread of this disease, the ease of use of the product — these are
all reasons why we should pursue an OTC strategy, and we will.”
George
Anderson – Moderator

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