Chembio Diagnostics’ headquarters in Hauppauge.

Chembio Diagnostics’ headquarters in Hauppauge. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

A Hauppauge-based manufacturer of diagnostic tests plans to reopen the factory in Malaysia that it shut down two years ago, executives said.

Chembio Diagnostics Inc. has reached agreement with a Malaysian company, Reszon Diagnostics International, to run the plant in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. HIV tests will be made there, the executives said.

Chembio CEO Richard Eberly said production in Malaysia could resume by September. He said the move would “improve profitability” for the company, which has experienced losses for years.

A loss of $34 million was reported for the year ended Dec. 31 on revenue of $48 million, according to a securities filing.

In May 2020, Eberly announced plans to mothball the factory in Malaysia, to stop making tests for HIV, syphilis, malaria, Ebola and other infectious diseases and to convert three factories in Hauppauge, Medford and Brazil to the production of COVID-19 tests. About 30 people worked at the Malaysia plant at the time, a filing shows.

A month later, Chembio lost Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell a COVID test because of inaccurate results in some instances. Chembio has been attempting to regain the FDA's permission ever since, but some of its other COVID tests have been approved for use abroad, including in Europe and Brazil.

In Malaysia, Reszon CEO EL Law said the agreement with Chembio will help his company to “expand our business in the Malaysian and international markets.” Reszon opened in 2010 and says it's now the largest supplier of COVID self-testing kits in Southeast Asia.

Chembio's other overseas factory is in Germany, where it makes readers of test results.  

Overall, the company employed 337 people as of Dec. 31, with 297 on Long Island, according to a securities filing. It held a job fair at the Medford plant in August to fill more than 100 production jobs — but ended the year with 23 fewer local employees than in 2020, the filing shows.

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