FDA Grants Marketing Authorization to Diagnostic Tests for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea with At-Home Sample Collection
FDA says the move will make it easier to gain authorization for other clinical laboratory tests to utilize at-home collection kits
In another sign of how diagnostic testing is responding to changing consumer preferences, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted marketing authorization to LetsGetChecked for the company’s Simple 2 test for chlamydia and gonorrhea, which includes at-home collection of samples sent to the test developer’s clinical laboratories in the US and in Ireland.
This marks the first time the FDA has cleared a diagnostic test for either condition in which samples are collected at home. It’s also the first test with at-home sample collection to be authorized for any sexually transmitted infection (STI) other than HIV, the FDA said in a new release.
Simple 2 Home Collection Kits are available over the counter for anyone 18 or older. The kits employ Hologic’s Aptima collection devices, according to a company press release. A prepaid shipping label is also included to enable delivery to one of LetsGetChecked’s medical laboratories. The company performs the tests using the Hologic Aptima Combo 2 assay for Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG).
Samples are collected through a vaginal swab or urine sample. “Results are delivered online in approximately 2-5 days with follow-up virtual consultations and treatment available if needed,” the company press release states.
Previously authorized tests for the conditions required sample collection at the point of care. The company also offers telehealth and online pharmacy services.
“This authorization marks an important public health milestone, giving patients more information about their health from the privacy of their own home,” said Jeff Shuren, MD, JD (above), Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “We are eager to continue supporting greater consumer access to diagnostic tests, which helps further our goal of bringing more healthcare into the home.” With this emphasis on at-home testing from the FDA, clinical laboratories in the US and Ireland will likely be processing more at-home collected samples. (Photo copyright: FDA.)
Simple 2 Process and Costs
Prior to collecting the sample, the user goes online to complete a questionnaire and activate the kit, the FDA news release notes.
LetsGetChecked, headquartered in New York City and Dublin, Ireland, says its US labs are CLIA– and CAP-certified. The company currently offers more than 30 at-home tests covering STIs, men’s health, women’s health, and COVID-19, at prices ranging from $89 to $249 per test.
The Simple 2 test costs $99, and is not covered by insurance, Verywell Health reported. Consumers can get discounts by subscribing to quarterly, semiannual, or annual tests.
New Regulatory Pathway
The FDA said it reviewed the test under its De Novo regulatory pathway, which is intended for “low- to moderate-risk devices of a new type,” according to the news release.
“Along with this De Novo authorization, the FDA is establishing special controls that define the requirements related to labeling and performance testing,” the agency stated. “When met, the special controls, in combination with general controls, provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness for tests of this type.”
This creates a new regulatory classification, the agency said, that will make it easier for similar devices to obtain marketing authorization.
Citing data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA news release states that chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common bacterial STIs in the US. The CDC estimates that there were 1.6 million cases of chlamydia and more than 700,000 cases of gonorrhea in 2021.
“Typically, both infections can be easily treated, but if left untreated, both infections can cause serious health complications for patients, including infertility,” the news release states. “Expanding the availability of STI testing can help patients get quicker results and access to the most appropriate treatment, ultimately helping to curb the rising rates of STIs.”
Experts Praise the FDA’s Authorization of the Lab Test
STI experts contacted by STAT said they welcomed the FDA’s move.
“There are many people who would like to be tested for STIs who may not know where to go or who have barriers to accessing medical care,” said Jodie Dionne, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Division of Infectious Diseases. “If we are going to do a better job of reaching more sexually active people for STIs … we need to be creative about how to get them tested and treated in a way that is highly effective and works for them.”
Family physician Alan Katz, MD, a professor at the University of Hawaii John A Burns School of Medicine, told STAT that the Hologic assay is also used by clinicians who treat people in remote locations to diagnose STIs and is regarded as being highly accurate.
“This option is exceptionally useful for individuals who live in rural areas or are geographically distanced from a clinic where STI testing can be done and there is no telehealth option available,” he told STAT.
With this latest move, the FDA is recognizing that it is time to give consumers more control over their healthcare. This is a signal to clinical laboratories that they should be developing their own strategies and offerings that serve consumers who want to order their own tests. Of course, many states still require a physician’s signature on lab test orders, but that is likely to change over time.