Victorian RAT maker wants to supply the nation

The medtech company partnering with the Victorian government to establish a rapid antigen test manufacturing facility hopes to eventually use the base to supply the nation with much needed product.

The Victorian Government announced on Wednesday a partnership with Lumos Diagnostics and Planet Innovation to launch a $17.2 million manufacturing plant and innovation center in Victoria to produce rapid Covid-19 antigen tests and other health products. diagnostic.

Once fully operational by October, the facility will produce up to 50 million Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), with priority access to these tests granted to the Victorian Government.

Lumos diagnostics

Lumos Diagnostics currently manufactures RATs and exports them to North America and Europe, with the company still awaiting Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval to begin using them in Australia.

Lumos Diagnostics executive chairman and Planet Innovation co-CEO Sam Lanyon said the company has been in talks with the Victorian government since before the pandemic and approached state and federal governments in 2020 for local manufacturing of RATs. Covid-19.

“We have worked with the state government for a long time. We have a relationship with them, and it has been very positive. We see that they understand what we do and understand how we are a catalyst for building the medtech ecosystem here in Victoria,” Mr Lanyon told InnovationAus.

“As the pandemic evolved, we had ongoing conversations with the Victorian and Federal governments. Sometimes there’s a right time and a wrong time to have conversations, but at the end of the day, as long as the conversations are meaningful and people know you, [then] when there is a changing public health situation, they know who to contact.

The Federal Government has not provided any funding for RAT’s Victorian manufacturing plant, but Mr Lanyon said he hoped the Commonwealth would procure tests from the local company.

“The financing part is not as important to us as the purchasing part. I would expect that when we have products available here locally, we would have conversations about domestic purchases as well as state procurement,” he said.

“What we focus on is supply certainty. Part of the deal is that it’s starting to be part of that framework with the Government of Victoria. We would like to do things the same way with other states and we look forward to doing so.

The facility will be locked down in Blackburn, while initial RAT production will begin from April at Planet Innovation’s existing factory.

The company will manufacture one million tests per month from April, three million per month after July and the full amount of 50 million per month from October.

The partnership makes Victoria the first state to promote local manufacturing of RATs with direct funding and support.

“Making rapid antigen tests in Victoria will protect and secure the state’s supply chain and create local jobs. To be able to ramp up production so quickly shows the strength of Victoria’s advanced manufacturing capabilities,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.

A number of Australian RAT manufacturers are currently awaiting TGA approval, with many opting to export the tests overseas while they wish.

Last month, the federal government purchased $60 million worth of RATs overseas.

The federal opposition recently pledged to increase sovereign manufacturing of medical equipment and prioritize locally made products when buying in an election pitch focused on RATs.

After rule changes late last year allowed the use of rapid diagnostic tools such as home RATs, Lumos Diagnostics is awaiting TGA approval for its tests.

“We continue to work with the TGA on building our app and hope for good news in the future,” Lanyon said.

The Victorian facility will manufacture a range of rapid diagnostic tests, not just those for Covid-19, and is the government’s long-term game, Mr Lanyon said.

“The process with local regulators has been as expected and the same as elsewhere in the world.”

“This sovereign manufacturing capability is not just about one product for a short time. Our intention is to expand that in terms of our ability to produce products for Australia and internationally,” he said.

“Sovereign capability is important not just in our space, it’s broadly very important defensively. If you think parts of health care are defensive in nature, that’s where you should have local capability. Global supply chains will naturally stretch, so we need to build local capacity.

“It’s a long-term game, it doesn’t get solved overnight.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley by email.

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