The American Red Cross and Chiron have signed a multi-year agreement for the supply of Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) products. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The agreement extends the existing contract for the PROCLEIX® HIV-1/HCV assay and amends the contract to include the PROCLEIX® West Nile Virus (WNV) assay. In addition, use of the PROCLEIX® TIGRIS® system has been expanded under the investigational new drug application, allowing the American Red Cross to fully automate NAT for blood screening at multiple testing sites.

The PROCLEIX WNV assay adds another level of safety to the blood supply by allowing blood centers to detect the virus in blood donations well before detectable antibodies develop. Additionally, the PROCLEIX TIGRIS system is designed to enable testing of individual samples; this is important during the WNV peak season to increase sensitivity without compromising turnaround time.

“Blood safety is a critical concern for the American Red Cross,” says Jack McGuire, interim president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “We have intercepted a significant number of infected blood samples since working with Chiron’s NAT blood screening tests. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Chiron to help ensure a safe blood supply.”

To prevent the spread of infectious disease, the American Red Cross in 1999 became one of the first US blood banking organizations to implement NAT when it initiated use of the PROCLEIX HIV-1/HCV Assay.

This new agreement secures the long term supply of PROCLEIX® assays and systems to the American Red Cross, enabling the network of five national testing laboratories to test more than 6.5 million units of blood collected by the Red Cross’s 36 blood regions every year.

“This new contract with the American Red Cross reinforces the positive relationship both parties have enjoyed since 1999. We have partnered with the American Red Cross to enhance the safety of the US blood supply and look forward to continuing this effort well into the next decade,” says Gene Walther, president of Chiron, the diagnostics business of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. “As part of Novartis, we will continue our commitment to invest in research and development of innovative products to meet the urgent and ongoing need for safe blood.”