Jan 27 (Reuters) - Laboratory testing company Quest Diagnostics Inc said on Tuesday it had signed a $520,000 agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify trends in screening, diagnosis and treatment of four strains of viral hepatitis.
Quest will provide the U.S. public health agency with analytics and access to Quest's national database of clinical testing hepatitis data, which includes information from more than 20 billion test results.
The agreement expands on Quest's previous efforts with the CDC on hepatitis C testing data for Baby Boomers, or individuals born between 1945 and 1965, one of the groups most exposed to the virus.
The government in 2012 recommended that Baby Boomers be screened for hepatitis C, which can cause death.
The expanded agreement aims to identify trends in screening for hepatitis A, B, C and E and will focus on data for hepatitis B and C in pregnant women to find possible gaps that the CDC could use to target screening and treatment.
The data have been modified to protect the identity of the patients.
"If you can get people diagnosed, then the next obvious stage is to get them into care," said Rick Pesano, medical director for infectious diseases at Quest.
Treatment for hepatitis C has changed dramatically since Gilead Sciences Inc introduced its Sovaldi drug in December of 2013 with few side effects. It has since introduced a second combination drug Harvoni and AbbVie Inc has launched a competitor that offers similar cure rates above 90 percent. (Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Richard Chang)