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Chembio Diagnostics reports $2.6 million loss for quarter

Junior scientist Melissa Ahrens performs a laboratory test

Junior scientist Melissa Ahrens performs a laboratory test with Chembio's DPP Zika IgM/IgG Assay at Chembio Diagnostic Systems Inc. in Medford Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

Chembio Diagnostics Inc. Tuesday reported a larger loss for the October-December period compared with a year earlier because of fewer sales of its rapid tests for HIV and syphilis.

The Medford-based manufacturer of tests used to diagnosis sexually transmitted and tropical diseases such as Ebola and malaria posted a loss of $2.6 million for the three months ended Dec. 31. That’s a 294 percent increase from the same quarter in 2015, when losses totaled $649,000.

Sales also fell in the October-December period to $4.3 million, down nearly 4 percent compared with $4.4 million a year earlier.

CEO John Sperzel said the decline “was primarily due to the previously disclosed loss” of sales in Brazil for HIV and syphilis tests. A competitor underbid Chembio for the work, he said.

The company also lost sales in the United States of an HIV test as it took over the sales from an independent distributor.

Sperzel said Chembio recently won a two-year contract to provide HIV tests to Florida state government and a two-year contract for HIV tests to an undisclosed state. Together, the contracts are expected to generate $2 million between this year and next year.

The company also hopes to complete U.S. clinical trials for a combination HIV and syphilis test by March 31.

Chembio recently won contracts in Southeast Asia that will add $1.5 million to this year’s sales.

“We are well-positioned to commercialize our new and existing products, [and] strengthen and expand our global distribution channels,” Sperzel said.

For the year ended Dec. 31, the company reported a loss of $13.3 million, compared with a loss of $2.4 million in 2015.

The announcement came after the stock market close yesterday. Chembio shares closed down 5 cents, or about 1 percent, to $5.85 on the Nasdaq market.

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