MIRACULINS, the Winnipeg medical diagnostic company, has teamed up with PharmaChoice to introduce the PreVu non-invasive skin cholesterol point of care (POC) test in stores in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
The Dartmouth, N.S.-based chain of 350-plus independent pharmacies will roll out the test in 50 locations in Ontario and the Maritimes in February during Canada's National Heart Health Month.
It's the start of what Miraculins' Paul Moreau said will be a "very aggressive" 2013.
Last fall, the Winnipeg company had its initial PreVu market launch in 11 London Drugs stores in Western Canada, including one in Winnipeg.
London Drugs has now made the test available in all 76 of its locations.
"It's been very, very well received (at the London Drugs stores)," Moreau, vice-president of sales and marketing, said.
"There's been strong patient response, and the pharmacists loved the technology and they found it easy to administer the test."
Now that Miraculins has been able to demonstrate the retail model works for the PreVu tests, Moreau said his company has "strong expectations" to have the test available in hundreds of pharmacy locations across the country in 2013.
Lowell Johnstone, PharmaChoice's director of pharmacy services, said his company's plan is to eventually roll it out to all its stores across the country.
And work is already underway to export the technology. Moreau said the test is entirely suitable for the U.S. market as well as the United Kingdom and Europe.
"Heart disease does not respect country borders and the model we are refining is applicable elsewhere," he said.
The PreVu POC test does not diagnose the presence or absence of coronary artery disease (CAD) and is not considered a substitute for blood serum cholesterol testing.
The procedure -- which takes five minutes and does not require needles or drawing of blood -- tests if an individual has elevated levels for certain markers. If they are borderline or elevated, the patient is advised to see their doctor to be fully assessed. "Far too many people are not assessed," said Moreau. "They do not know the risk they possess. Maybe they don't see a doctor regularly, they don't have blood work done regularly. This is a user-friendly way to have that done."
Clinical studies have shown elevated levels of skin cholesterol are strongly associated with an increased risk of heart disease from a condition in which an artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol.
PharmaChoice will charge $24.99 for the test and Johnstone said he sees it as something that will become a permanent offering at all PharmaChoice locations.
"I think it is a unique offering," Johnstone said.
"Usually when we think about measuring cholesterol, you're talking about seeing a doctor, fasting overnight then getting blood work done.
"It requires a concerted effort. You have to plan it for a week or two. PreVu gives patients the opportunity to assess the risk to see whether or not you really do need to see the doctor."
Moreau wouldn't speculate as to what sort of revenue Mircaulins will generate from the commercial launch of the kits across the country.
Miraculins shares closed unchanged Wednesday at 10.5 cents.