FDA OKs Emergency Use of First Ebola Fingerstick Test with Portable Reader

NOVEMBER 09, 2018
Officials with the US FDA this week announced an emergency use authorization (EUA)  for a rapid, single-use test for the detection of Zaire ebolavirus, making it the second Ebola rapid antigen fingerstick test available under EUA, but the first that uses a portable battery-operated reader.

The test, called the DPP Ebola Antigen System, is used with blood specimens, including fingerstick whole blood, from individuals with signs and symptoms of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in addition to other risk factors, such as living in an area with large numbers of EVD cases and/or having contact with other individuals exhibiting signs and symptoms of EVD.

The FDA’s EUA authority allows the agency to authorize the use of an unapproved medical product, or the unapproved use of an approved medical product when, among other circumstances, there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives. 

In 2014, during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, an emergency was declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. While that outbreak has ended, ongoing, smaller Ebola outbreaks have continued, and the emergency declaration is still in place. Recent outbreaks in remote areas with limited resources can benefit from rapid diagnostic tools, FDA officials said in a press statement, adding that the "issuance of an EUA for the DPP Ebola Antigen System is an important step in addressing these outbreaks."

The DPP Ebola Antigen System provides rapid diagnostic results with tests that can be performed in locations where a health care provider does not have access to authorized Ebola virus nucleic acid tests (PCR testing), which are highly sensitive but can only be performed in certain laboratory settings that are adequately equipped. The DPP Ebola Antigen System has been authorized for use with capillary “fingerstick” whole blood, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA, an anticoagulant added to whole blood to prevent coagulation) venous whole blood and EDTA plasma. The DPP Ebola Antigen System should only be run in facilities, including treatment centers and public health clinics where patients are likely to be treated, and laboratories that are adequately equipped, trained and capable of such testing.

It is important to note that a negative result from the DPP Ebola Antigen System, especially in patients with signs and symptoms of EVD, should not be used as the sole basis for patient management decisions. The diagnosis of EVD must be made based on multiple factors such as, history, signs, symptoms, exposure likelihood and other laboratory evidence in addition to the detection of Ebola virus.

With the issuance of the EUA for the DPP Ebola Antigen System to Chembio Diagnostic Systems Inc., the FDA has now issued EUAs for nine nucleic acid tests and two rapid diagnostic tests for Ebola virus detection in human specimens.

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