There were a couple of big questions buzzing around the MassDevice bullpen today.
When will the Centers for Disease Control reveal which rapid influenza test it will authorize to diagnose the ever-escalating number of swine flu cases?
And will the makers of that test be one of our own?
The Wall Street Journal reported late yesterday that federal regulators issued orders allowing the emergency use of anti-viral drugs and rapid tests, some of which are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, to combat the escalating swine flu outbreak.
This followed the World Health Organization’s move to up its warning level to Phase 4: Mitigation level.
That means there’s no longer any hope of containing the outbreak, at least according to the global health agency. Now it’s just a matter of mitigating the damage and trying to slow its spread.
The government authorized widespread use of anti-influenza drugs Tamiflu and the inhalant Relenza, made by Roche Holding AG and GlaxoSmithKline plc, respectively.
However, they were cagier about the flu test, leaving room for speculation.
Yesterday, MassDevice reported that the stock price for Waltham-based Inverness Medical Innovations spiked, jumping more than $3 per share, on the strength of its Q1 sales and earnings.
But it wasn’t lost on us that the company also produces the BinaxNOW influenza test, a rapid diagnostic that can detect A-type influenza strains like the swine flu.
Officials at the Waltham company were careful with their words yesterday, saying only that the company was ready to assist if needed. But they also put out this press release, saying the company was “working with the CDC and other government agencies to aid and support their efforts during the Swine Flu outbreak.”
Calls to several executives at Inverness were not returned as of this posting, and when we talked with the CDC in Atlanta this afternoon we were told they’re getting about 800 messages a day from the media seeking comment. Which was not, shall we say, forthcoming.
But we’re nothing if not persistent. Stay tuned to MassDevice as we follow the story.