ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Ortho Clinical Diagnostics has played a key role in helping people stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing fast, accurate, and reliable test results.

Tony Allen, the company’s Vice President of Global Internal Manufacturing, discussed the company’s Rochester-based workforce Wednesday during our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation.

Allen said Ortho Clinical Diagnostics is one of the world’s largest pure-play in vitro diagnostics (IVD) companies. “We are very, very passionate about what we do.”

Seventy percent of medical decisions are based on diagnostics according to Allen. “The responsibility to improve and save patients’ lives is Ortho’s driving force and more than 800,000 patients worldwide are impacted by Ortho’s tests each day. Ortho provides hospitals, hospital networks, clinical laboratories, and blood banks around the world with innovative technology and tools to ensure test results are fast, accurate, and reliable. Ortho’s customized solutions enhance clinical outcomes, improve efficiency, overcome lab staffing challenges and reduce costs.”

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics launched the first product to determine Rh+ or Rh- blood type, developing the world’s first tests for the detection of antibodies against HIV and hepatitis C, introduced patented dry-slide technology, and marketed the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration-authorized high-volume antibody and antigen tests for COVID-19. “Ortho has been a leader in the IVD space for over 80 years,” said Allen.

The COVID tests were created at Ortho’s Global Center of Excellence for R&D in Rochester, providing mass-scale testing solutions when they were needed most. “We knew we had the technology and the know-how to be able to develop a COVID test,” Allen said. “The team worked night and day – all the hours that God could give them to develop the COVID antibody and antigen test.”

Ortho’s antibody test, which also received an emergency use authorization from the FDA early in the course of the pandemic, could factor in the ability to gauge post-vaccine effectiveness, including determining long-term antibody resistance to the virus noted Allen. He said Ortho’s strong infrastructure and manufacturing helped secure BARDA and Department of Defense funding.

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics formerly was Clinical Diagnostics Inc., a division of Eastman Kodak Co. before Johnson & Johnson purchased it in 1994. The company has been a fixture in Rochester for over three decades. “We consider it an honor to support the nation with high-quality laboratory analyzers and highly accurate COVID-19 tests,” said Allen.

The continued support from BARDA and the Department of Defense is a significant investment in Ortho’s local R&D and operations infrastructure, but equally significant to the local economy and community. BARDA’s financing will help with modernizing manufacturing and add 30 jobs initially.
Ortho’s Rochester facilities manufacture fluids and proprietary VITROS® XT MicroSlide assays, which help labs test for antibodies and antigens or detect and measure the amount of substance, hormone, or clinical marker in the sample. VITROS XT MicroSlides allow two tests typically performed together-like glucose and calcium-to be performed on the same slide, allowing labs to get results faster. Ortho operates three facilities (two manufacturing facilities and an administrative building) at Canal Ponds in Rochester which collectively employ about 1,200 employees. The new contract will add 30 jobs in both manufacturing and R&D.

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