July 6, 2020 / 2:13 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Becton Dickinson's rapid antigen test for COVID-19 authorized by FDA, shares rise

(Adds share move, analyst comment)

By Carl O'Donnell

July 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to Becton Dickinson and Co for a COVID-19 antigen test that can be administered at the point of care and produce results within 15 minutes, the company said on Monday.

Becton Dickinson shares rose $5.40, or 2.3%, to $250.61 in early trading.

Antigen tests are a relatively new type of test for COVID-19 that work by scanning for proteins that can be found on or inside a virus.

The authorization was based on a robust sample size of 226 specimens from sites across the United States, Evercore ISI analyst Vijay Kumar said in a research note.

"We think the new antigen test will play a big role in the coming flu season as a rapid, rule out test," Kumar said.

Becton Dickinson plans to produce 2 million tests a week by the end of September.

The FDA has touted the rapid tests as an important tool for combating the pandemic because they can be produced quickly, at relatively low costs, and test patients in a variety of settings.

The regulator in May approved the first COVID-19 antibody test, which is made by Quidel Corp.

Becton Dickinson's test can be used on its existing BD Veritor System platform, which is employed in about 25,000 healthcare facilities across the United States.

Becton Dickinson is selling a variety of other types of tests for COVID-19 and has said it is working to ramp up testing capacity for many of them.

"This will be a game changer for frontline healthcare workers and their patients to be able to access a quick diagnostic test for COVID-19, offering results in real time at convenient locations like retail pharmacies, urgent care centers, and doctors' offices," said Dave Hickey, president of Becton Dickinson's integrated diagnostic solutions business.

Reporting by Carl O'Donnell; Editing by Peter Cooney and Dan Grebler

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