Springdale-based healthcare technology startup Now Diagnostics developed the first blood-based pregnancy test to be sold over the counter in Europe.
Now Diagnostics, which develops fast, simple diagnostics tests, recently shipped 50,000 of its First To Know tests to distributor Welcome Pharma, and the tests are being sold at 3,000 of Welcome Pharma’s pharmacies across Italy, said Kevin Clark, CEO of Now Diagnostics. The tests determine a pregnancy by detecting the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in blood. Traditional tests detect hCG in urine.
The First To Know test can detect a pregnancy two to 10 days sooner and more accurately than the traditional method, Clark said. In March, the test received approval to be sold over the counter throughout the European Union. Clark said he had a lot of contacts in Italy from his previous professional experience, and he worked with Welcome Pharma to roll out the tests in Italy. Later this year, he expects the tests will be sold in other countries across southern Europe, including Spain and France.
Now Diagnostics, with revenue of less than $1 million, has about 36 products in the pipeline, as well as three heart attack tests and three toxicology tests on the market in Europe. Some products will be for professional use only, such as a test to determine whether one is having a heart attack, which is being tested at the Vatican hospital, Clark said. The next tests likely to be sold over the counter in Europe include those for sexually transmitted diseases and strep throat.
Since mid-2017, healthcare professionals have administered Now Diagnostics’ hCG pregnancy tests at clinics in the United States. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the test for over-the-counter sales.
Now Diagnostics was formed in 2012 by Jeremy Wilson, a venture capitalist and CEO of NewRoad Capital Partners in Rogers. The company has about 50 employees, of which about two-thirds are based at the company’s headquarters in Springdale.