German pharma Stada partners to market rapid Ebola diagnostic

Stada Pharm is the latest company to tilt into the Ebola fray with a rapid diagnostic product for use on patients and bodies in the field. Starting in March, the German pharma will begin marketing a test developed and produced by German startup Senova to detect advanced-stage Ebola infection within about 10 minutes. The terms of the partnership for the product were undisclosed.

Senova's Ebola rapid test--Courtesy of Senova

The test has been validated in several hundred patients in Guinea. It's expected to be of particular use in diagnosing Ebola patients who have died, in order to encourage appropriate handling of the body to discourage disease transmission.

"The viral load in people who have died of Ebola is so high that even a mere throat swab is sufficient to perform the rapid test. Isolation can thus be carried out extremely quickly in the event of a positive test result," Senova owner Hans Hermann Söffing said in a statement. "This is particularly important as experience shows that in the main infection areas, many people become infected through contact with the deceased.''

The company expects to sell the test to aid organizations, community teams and hospitals. The Ebola rapid test can be ordered directly through Stada or its wholesalers. The price per test is €3.20 ($3.62).

The test does not require electrical power and is used with a sample of serum from mechanically treated blood or other fluid samples to find the pathogen. The determination of the presence of the disease is offered through the detection of an antigen.

"With our high-quality screening test, infected persons can be detected within a very short space of time, isolated from their environment and further diagnostic steps can be initiated. This speeds up and simplifies the quarantine management in the disaster areas," Lothar Guske, Managing Director of Stada Pharm, said in a statement. Stada Pharm is a wholly owned subsidiary of German generic manufacturer Stada Arzneimittel.

Stada is not the first company to roll out a rapid Ebola diagnostic in the last few months. Roche ($RHHBY), bioMérieux, Corgenix ($CONX) and Cepheid ($CPHD) have all launched tests or are testing them, so it still remains to be seen which will become standard for use in the field.

- here is the release
- and a take from Reuters