LOCAL laboratory developer and supplier Philab Industries will establish the Philippines’ first diagnostic test manufacturing facility to produce “self-test” kits for diseases such as dengue, malaria, and Zika as well as other medical conditions, the company announced last Wednesday.
Philab will be developing the manufacturing facility in a joint venture with Asan Pharma of South Korea.
The laboratory and equipment maker did not disclose a cost for the project, but said it expects to generate between P1 billion and P1.5 billion in revenues in regional sales in the first two years of operation, which the company hopes could begin in mid-2017.
Hector Thomas Navasero, president and chief executive officer of Philab, said the partnership would provide affordable self-test kits not only to the Philippines but the whole of Asia.
“Producing the self-test kits domestically will cut the suggested retail price in the market, making it available to the poor who cannot easily go to the doctor to verify specific diseases,” he said.
Navasero stressed that a key to fighting infectious diseases, both in treatment of victims and in preventing their spread, is early detection.
“It is important to do a self-test at the first sign of symptoms, because with the diseases like dengue, Zika and malaria, time of diagnosis is very critical,” Navasero said.
“After doing a self-test, it is best to confirm the results with the doctors to receive proper medication,” he added.
Navasero noted the new production would be a lucrative revenue source for the company.
“But more importantly it will pioneer immune lateral assay technology for diagnostic in the Philippines,” Navasero said.
The self-test kits for common diseases by detecting antibodies in a small sample of blood – a few drops – using a reactive membrane. They are seen as a cost-effective and easy way to provide basic diagnostic services to people, either directly through self-testing, or through use by public health workers, a spokesperson for the Department of Health (DOH) said.
In addition to the self-test kits, Philab is also looking at manufacturing glucose test kits used by diabetes sufferers.
“We are also exploring the local production of glucose tests in the same manufacturing facility to serve the local demand and regional demand,” Navasero said.
According to Navasero, Philab’s goal is to make diagnosis and monitoring one’s health more affordable for ordinary Filipinos.
The company recently completed the delivery of one million dengue self-test kits to regional health offices of the DOH, he added.
Philab said it would soon release the first self-test kit in the retail market for dengue fever, and is developing kits for other mosquito-borne infections under its LabIT brand.