Speaking on Abbott’s April 20 earnings call, transcribed by SeekingAlpha, Ford pointed out that the company’s diagnostics sales increased by 115% year-over-year from the first quarter of 2020, with a significant chunk of that made up by COVID-19 testing revenues.
Those COVID-19 testing-related sales were spearheaded by Abbott’s rapid, point-of-care test offerings, which include the BinaxNOW card that earlier this month became available over the counter. Ford cited a trend in demand that is shifting toward rapid testing around the world.
“During the quarter, BinaxNOW received U.S. emergency use authorization for over-the-counter nonprescription self-use for people with or without symptoms,” Ford said. “We began shipping test kits to major retailers [April 19]. Just as importantly, our underlying base business continues to improve, driven by improving routine diagnostic testing levels and the continued rollout of our Alinity platforms.”
Ford went on to say that the pandemic is allowing Abbott to build sustainability for a rapid testing channel that goes beyond COVID-19. Abbott’s ID NOW instrument has “seeded the market” for an opportunity to push past the current virus and expand testing further, he said.
The company has nearly quadrupled its installed base of rapid testing instruments in the U.S. (19,000 in 2019 to 75,000 currently) and Ford said the opportunity to roll out the Alinity platform and build Abbott’s rapid testing channel is there for the taking.
“Will they all be as productive from a COVID testing perspective at the highest level of the pandemic one, two years out?” Ford asked. “No, probably not, but they’ll be very productive with all of our other assays and that installed base will continue to grow [and] will continue to produce for us.”