• Lumos’ FebriDx test to differentiate a viral from bacterial acute respiratory infection to be available in Australia and New Zealand
  • Lumos extends distribution deal to Regional Health Care Group, a Australia and NZ company of Nasdaq-listed Henry Schein 
  • FebriDx already available in various European countries, UK and US through distribution deal with Henry Schein

Winter is here and along with the colder weather comes a rise in nasty respiratory infections. But if you’re afflicted with a dreaded chest lurgy, how do you know whether you need treatment with an antibiotic?

Well, your doctor may soon be able to tell you within 10 minutes, with Lumos Diagnostics (ASX:LDX) announcing its FebriDx rapid point-of-care test to differentiate a viral from bacterial acute respiratory infection will be available in Australia and New Zealand.

The leader in POC diagnostic technologies has extended its distribution deal to Regional Health Care Group, a Henry Schein company in Australia and New Zealand,  for its trademarked FebriDx POC finger stick blood test.

Nasdaq-listed Henry Schein is the world’s largest provider of health care solutions to office-based dental and doctors and already distributing FebriX, which received US Food and Drug Administration approval in 2023 to Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK and US.

LDX says RHCG is set to sell the FebriDx test throughout Australia and New Zealand with sales and marketing activities starting immediately.


Discovery of antibiotics saves lives

First, a little history lesson. In 1928, physician and microbiologist Dr Alexander Fleming returned from a holiday to his lab at St Mary’s hospital in London to find mould growing on a petrie dish of staphylococcus bacteria. He noticed the mould seemed to prevent the bacteria around it from growing. It had essentially produced a chemical which could kill bacteria.

After isolating and identifying the mould as belonging to the penicillium genus, Fleming named its active agent penicillin.

At first, there was not much interest among the scientific community in penicillin and it wasn’t until about 10 years later while researching microrganisms and the chemicals they produce that researchers at Oxford University took Fleming’s discovery seriously.  A team was assembled to work solely on what was dubbed  ‘The Penicillin Project’.

Like many medical discoveries it took time, further research and resources to become a therapeutic for humans but it’s potential to treat injured soldiers and wounded civilians during World War 2 was recognised.

Collaborative efforts among governments, industry, British and US scientists led to production of sufficient penicillin supplies by D-Day in 1944, when Allied troops landed in France and by 1946, after the war, penicillin was widely available for prescription.

Penicillin heralded what was considered the dawn of the antibiotic age, saving countless lives from infections once deemed fatal such as pneumonia and even blood poisoning contracted from a cut or scratch.


The rise of antibiotic resistance

But even early on after its discovery, problems with penicillin and antibiotics began to emerge.  While antibiotics are considered one of the greatest advances in medicine, overprescribing has led to resistant bacteria which has become harder and difficult to treat.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top global public health and development threats.

Antimicrobials include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics medicines to prevent and treat infectious diseases in humans, animals and plants.

WHO estimates that bacterial AMR was directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths in 2019 and contributed to 4.95 million deaths.

“The misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens,” WHO says.

“AMR puts many of the gains of modern medicine at risk.

“It makes infections harder to treat and makes other medical procedures and treatments – such as surgery, caesarean sections and cancer chemotherapy – much riskier.”

Furthermore,  many people experience adverse reactions to antibiotics, which may include relatively mild side effects such as a rash, dizziness, nausea or diarrhoea to very severe allergic reactions.


Finger stick test to help curb use of antibiotics

With the spread of drug-resistant pathogens considered a silent pandemic, undermining health systems globally, avoiding unnecessary use of antibiotics has become paramount, which is where LDX’s FebriDx is finding value.

FebriDx delivers results within 10 minutes from fingerstick blood and can be used to help rapidly and accurately manage infectious patients in primary care, urgent care, emergency dept, paediatric and other outpatient settings.

In April, LDX announced peer-reviewed journal Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, had published results of a positive FebriDx study conducted by collaborators at one of Spain’s largest paediatric hospitals, Sant Joan de Déu Hospital in Barcelona.

The study enrolled 216 paediatric patients to determine FebriDx’s impact on management of antibiotics in paediatric patients presenting to the emergency department with acute respiratory infection.

The study found FebriDx could be useful for optimising antibiotic use in children with acute febrile respiratory infections and may also decrease the need for unnecessary chest X-rays, improving the management of febrile respiratory illnesses in children.

Principal investigator, head of the paediatric emergency department at SJD and associate professor Dr Carles Luaces Cubells says febrile syndrome is, without a doubt, the most frequent reason for consultation in paediatric emergency departments.

“Emergency paediatricians know that in most cases these febrile processes correspond to viral conditions,” he says.

“Despite this, the correct diagnosis is still a major and frequent challenge.”

“Based on our experience, we understand that the incorporation of FebriDx in the diagnostic arsenal for febrile patients, along with a good clinical evaluation, is useful for improving the indication of complementary tests such as X-rays and favors a more accurate antibiotic prescription.”

Put simply FebriDx can help to produce vital diagnostic insights for parents caught in the tug of war of whether their sick child may – or may not – need antibiotics.


Investment case for major healthcare challenge

LDX CEO Doug Ward says the company is excited to offer FebriDx in Australia and New Zealand in partnership with RHCG.

“Bringing this device to the fingertips of your local healthcare professionals empowers important decision making at the point of care,” he says.

“In around 10 minutes, they will now be able to quickly delineate between a bacterial or viral acute respiratory infection and treat their patients accordingly.

“Providing timely access to antibiotics for those who need them, and actively reducing over-prescription too for those patients who don’t, is a pressing priority in healthcare settings all over the world and a mission we are proud to support with this world-leading technology.”

Ward says Henry Schein has been a supportive partner for LDX. With increased commercial interest in FebriDx, LDX is now preparing production to meet anticipated growing demand.

“It is great to see the increased interest in our FebriDx test from one of the world’s largest distributors of healthcare and medical products,” he says.

“It is very exciting to have Henry Schein as part of this strategy with their expanded distribution coverage for FebriDx in the Australian and New Zealand markets.”

The LDX share price has risen ~26% in the past five trading days.