Walgreens To Begin Selling OTC COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test


The test received FDA emergency use authorization for OTC, non-prescription, asymptomatic use for the detection of COVID-19 infection on March 31, 2021.

Abbott’s BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Self Test will soon be available on shelves at Walgreens in an effort to expand access to testing, according to a press release from Walgreens.

The test received FDA emergency use authorization for OTC, non-prescription, asymptomatic use of the BinaxNOW Self Test for the detection of COVID-19 infection on March 31, 2021. The new indication allows patients with or without symptoms to access the test without a prescription, and Walgreens is one of the first mass retailers to make the test widely available, the company announced in a press release.

COVID-19 testing goes hand-in-hand with vaccination efforts, with on-site COVID-19 testing available at more than 5500 Walgreens pharmacies. By May, the press release said they plan to expand testing to 6000 drive-thru sites, with half of these offering the rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test.

“Even as vaccines become more widely available, COVID-19 testing remains a critical tool to keep our communities safe,” said John Standley, president of Walgreens, in the press release. “The addition of this over-the-counter test in-store will help ensure our customers have access to testing solutions when and how they need it—at home or at one of our conveniently located testing sites.”

The BinaxNOW Self Test allows users to self-administer the test using a short nasal swab rather than the deep nasopharyngeal swabs used in prescription tests, and results are available in 15 minutes. According to the press release, the BinaxNOW test is the most studied rapid antigen in the United States following its approval for professional use in August 2020. The test has the same format and technology as a professional test and will be available in a 2-count box to meet the FDA’s serial testing requirements for non-prescription, OTC purchase, according to the press release.

Patients should test themselves twice with at least 36 hours between tests, according to the manufacturer’s instructions for use. It can be used on children as young as 2 years old when samples are collected by an adult. Notably, individuals who test negative should still be cautious, including following social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines, and individuals who test positive should follow the latest CDC guidelines.

“The BinaxNOW Self Test opens the door for Americans to buy an accurate and affordable test on their own terms, when and where they need it,” said Andrea F. Wainer, executive vice president of rapid and molecular diagnostics at Abbott, in the press release. “Together with vaccines and like-minded partners such as Walgreens, we can help people get back to doing what they love—like spending time with friends and family.”


Walgreens Makes Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Self Test Available Over-The-Counter at Stores Nationwide [news release]. Walgreens; April 19, 2021. https://news.walgreens.com/press-releases/walgreens-makes-abbotts-binaxnow-covid-19-self-test-available-over-counter-at-stores-nationwide.htm. Accessed April 19, 2021.

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