Question: What if there were a company that created a device that could accurately and quickly diagnose HIV using a device that did not require drawing blood and was as simple to use as a thermometer?
Answer: There's already a company like that and it's called OraSure Technologies Inc., in Bethlehem.
OraSure, founded in 1988 and public as of 2000, created the first FDA-approved rapid oral HIV test in the United States: OraQuick Advance accurately tests for HIV without the need for blood or needles and doesn't require users to come back on a later day for test results because the device gives results in 20 minutes. OraSure reported annual revenues of $71.1 million in 2008 and an increase in sales of the Company's OraQuick Advance test from 2007.
The company's unique technology--which is about as easy to use as a home pregnancy test--also makes it possible to use the devices safely and accurately in a non-clinical setting such as part of an outreach program or a mobile testing clinic. You simply swab saliva from the mouth and insert it into a plastic receptacle that shows after 20 minutes whether the test is positive.
Products now include tests for detection of antibodies for the HIV virus, including OraQuickADVANCE Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test and the OraSure HIV-1 Oral Specimen Collection Device; a test for antibodies for the HCV virus, the OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test; and oral testing solutions for drugs of abuse testing, including Intercept Oral Fluid Drug Testing System and QED Saliva Alcohol Test. They are sold in the U.S. and internationally to clinical laboratories, hospitals, clinics, community-based and public health organiations, government agencies, physicians officies and commercial and industrial entities.
The company received Ben Franklin Technology Partner funding in its early stages, and was located in one of the organization's incubator buildings for new companies. Now with about 300 employees, 80 percent of whom are in the Lehigh Valley, OraSure is one of Ben Franklin's biggest successes.