BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. - OraSure Technologies Inc. showed off its "factory of the future" in Bethlehem Township on Monday.
The company is also looking for some products of the future.
Bethlehem-based OraSure makes the InteliSwab quick COVID-19 test, and in 2021 was awarded $327.6 million in federal contracts to boost manufacturing during the pandemic. That exceeded OraSure's revenue for the year of $233.7 million.
Sales from COVID-19 will continue, President of Diagnostics Lisa Nibauer said during a tour of the new 139,000-square-foot facility, which is on Opus Way, north of Brodhead Road.
"Testing is still needed," she said, even though the pandemic has eased.
President Joseph Biden said last month that the pandemic is over, though experts said COVID-19 is still sweeping through the world and Americans continue to die from the virus.
Nibauer also noted that the federal money has been "very, very helpful."
Monday's plant unveiling was a bright spot in a tumultuous year for OraSure. The company has had three chief executives in 2022, including an interim leader, and OraSure pursued a fruitless search for "strategic alternatives." On top of that, stock in the company is trading at a fraction of its 52-week high.
Among those at the opening were U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh Valley). OraSure is carrying on the region's history of manufacturing, Wild said. When fully ready, around early 2024, the plant will be able to make 100 million-plus tests annually.
What those tests will be for is not certain, but patients will probably use them at home.
Chief Executive Officer Carrie Eglinton Manner said OraSure's focus on tests for the home represents the future of diagnostics.
"There is a shift underway within healthcare delivery to reach patients where they are, and our tests are prime examples of helping enable this shift," she told the crowd outside the plant. "Our OraQuick over-the-counter HIV tests and InteliSwab over-the-counter COVID-19 rapid tests demonstrate how to reach people where they are."
Scott Gleason, head of investor relations, said OraSure is developing automated and efficient test-making capacity at the Opus Way site that will carry over to other products.
"How can we utilize that capacity we have in the future" beyond COVID-19 is what will determine the company's strategy, he said. OraSure is undergoing a transformation under Eglinton Manner's leadership, Gleason said.
In August, Eglinton Manner set goals of increased automation and reduced expenses. The company also forecast that it would have positive cash flow in the fourth quarter of this year.
The company's shares bounded some after the August second-quarter earnings report but have since declined. OraSure trades on the NASDAQ market under the ticker OSUR. They touched $4.00 Monday, a little more than a third of the $11.59 52-week-high. The 52-week low was $2.62.
State Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Bethlehem, noted that OraSure has a long history in the Lehigh Valley. It was founded in Bethlehem in 1988 as SolarCare Technologies. One of the founders, Sam Niedbala, was on hand as a guest for the plant unveiling.