A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Cepheid (Sunnyvale, California) reported that it has entered into a five-year master purchase order with Northrop Grumman (Los Angeles) for the purchase of up to $200 million in Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) test cartridges and associated materials. The anthrax test is currently used in Biohazard Detection Systems (BDS), installed at United States Postal Service (USPS) mail processing centers nationwide. The agreement covers the USPS fiscal years of 2007 through 2011. Cepheid began supplying USPS with GeneXpert modules and anthrax test cartridges in 2003.

The purchase quantity of anthrax tests will be determined on an annual basis, based on the USPS fiscal year of October 1 through September 30. Cepheid has received notice that expected test purchases for fiscal 2008 will be approximately two million cartridges.

The GeneXpert modules and anthrax test cartridges serve as the foundation of the BDS system. The BDS system rapidly analyzes air samples taken from the mail sorting systems in order to detect any potential trace levels of DNA from anthrax spores as mail travels through the mail processing equipment.

Cepheid is an on-demand molecular diagnostics company that develops fully-integrated systems for genetic analysis in the clinical, industrial and biothreat markets.

Northrop Grumman is a global technology and defense company.