By Ron Shinkman, Editor, Laboratory Industry Report
The Chronic Liver Disease Foundation has teamed up with retail giant Walgreens to offer free testing for hepatitis C at the latter’s drugstores.
The testing will start this August and will run through January 2016 at various times and days of the week. It will be offered at more than five dozen Walgreens locations in 12 major cities throughout the United States.
The tests will be offered by Pennsylvania-based OraSure Technologies, which is best known for an in-home test for HIV. Its CLIA-waived OraQuick point-of-care test can provide results within 20 minutes using a small amount of blood drawn with a fingerstick.
As many as 5.2 million Americans are believed to have hepatitis C, and a large number of those cases have yet to be diagnosed. The disease can gradually destroy the liver.
"The rapid hepatitis testing program demonstrates our commitment to helping patients access important information that can help to improve their health," said Glen Pietrandoni, Walgreens’ senior director of virology, in a statement. “We are proud to collaborate with the Chronic Liver Disease Foundation on this initiative. Through this testing program we can help people become educated on the risk factors, identify people infected with HCV and help them get linked to appropriate care."
Those who test positive for hepatitis C will be provided with education and treatment options by the Chronic Liver Disease Foundation.
The testing campaign is likely to be a boon for Gilead and AbbVie, both of which have developed drug regimens that cure most cases of hepatitis C without any side effects.