New TB test returns results in only two hours

Health officials say there is a new test for tuberculosis that is cheaper and faster than existing tests and will be available soon to developing countries.

The test, designed by the Foundation for Innovative and New Diagnostics, will be able to diagnose TB in less than two hours and will cost a fraction of the price of conventional tests, according to the Associated Press.

Representatives of the Swiss-based company said on December 7 that the test will be sold in 100 developing countries at a 75 percent discount rate - about $17 instead of $67.

The Foundation said that it had reached an agreement with the manufacturer, Cepheid, after coming to the realization that it would still be too expensive for developing countries and international donors to distribute the test widely at the original price, according to the AP.

Several donors have begun testing the device in South Africa and India. Officials expect the price to drop significantly once it is produced in significant quantities.

The World Health Organization is aware of the test and has said publicly that it could revolutionize the treatment of TB and is a major improvement over the current standard, which can take up to three months to return a diagnosis, the AP reports.

The health agency recommended that countries hit hard by TB include the test in their disease control strategies.