NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Since the outbreak began, several companies have advertised at-home testing kits for COVID-19.
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve home collection kits or diagnostic tests for consumers.
Federal agencies, such as the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission, are warning customers about fraudulent testing kits circulating online.
“You don’t want to pay for something and be bilked out of your hard-earned dollars,” said Reid Tepfer, an attorney with the FTC. “At the same time, you want accurate results you can depend on.”
Tepfer also urged consumers to be wary of dubious claims made by companies.
Legitimate companies have also announced their own rollouts.
Last month, Austin-based Everlywell announced it would be making 30,000 home tests available to the public.
But soon after, the FDA clarified it had not approved such products, the company said it allocated the kits to healthcare providers.
“We are actively working with the FDA and hope to make a COVID-19 test available in a home-setting,” said Christina Song, a spokeswoman for Everlywell. “The test will come with approved components for easy sample collection and will include free tele-health consultations with an independent physician for those with positive results to receive diagnosis at home. We hope to make it available to the public soon.”
Crystal Howell, an associate professor at the University of North Texas College of Pharmacy, said it’s best for consumers to wait for the FDA to approve home testing products.
“Sometimes it is difficult to apply the test correctly,” said Howell, whose clinical research focuses on infectious disease.
The FDA states the “preferred choice” for testing a patient involves swabbing the back of the nasal cavity through the nostril.
But Howell said that method can prove difficult for untrained healthcare professionals who may be administering the test to themselves.
Howell said it is important that home tests are accurate. Otherwise, false information could lead patients to unknowingly spread the virus to others.
“When the FDA looks at these tests, they make sure it’s safe to use and it’s reliable,” Howell said.
On its website, the FDA says it is currently working with test developers.
“The FDA sees the public health value in expanding the availability of COVID-19 testing through safe and accurate tests that may include home collection, and we are actively working with test developers on this goal,” the agency’s website states.
But for now, only healthcare providers can administer testing for COVID-19.
This week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission temporarily suspended trading for a California company that claimed to offer a home test approved by the FDA.