Two Companies In Indiana Work To Increase Public Testing For COVID-19

Mar 19, 2020

Roche Diagnostics North America is headquartered in Indianapolis.
Credit Scott Cameron / IPB News

The number of people being tested for the coronavirus has been limited by national shortages in tests and days-long waits for results. Two companies in Indiana are working to increase public testing.

After six weeks in development, Roche Diagnostics is shipping about 400,000 tests for COVID-19 each week after receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration last Friday. The company’s North American headquarters in Indianapolis has been managing the logistics of sending the new test kits to labs across the country.

Randy Pritchard, senior vice president of marketing, says the company’s kit can get results in three hours once placed in the machine to be analyzed.

“There had been testing methodologies available previously, mostly through lab developed tests where they, labs, they make their own recipe to understand and identify positive patients,” says Pritchard. “This was the first fully automated high throughput test available for the coronavirus.”

Roche is not saying publicly how much they’re charging labs for the test. But Pritchard says the automated process should help keep test costs lower.

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To help increase testing, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and the Indiana State Department of Health are partnering to speed up processing of COVID-19 tests.

State Health Commissioner Kris Box says it will help the state increase the number of Hoosiers getting tested.

“I’m pleased to let you know that we are seeing more private labs testing for COVID-19 and that partnership with Eli Lilly is expanding testing across Indiana,” says Box.

Lilly will take and process samples from Indiana hospitals, nursing homes and emergency rooms.

In a press release CEO David Ricks said, “This is one contribution we can make to help slow the spread of coronavirus in our community, and this testing will be entirely free.”

The company says it will not accept payments from the government, hospitals or insurance agencies for the work.

Contact Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.

This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.