Experts have warned that an online finger-stick hormone test used by menopausal women could provide unreliable results.
Online retailers sell fingerstick tests to detect a hormone called estradiol for between £50 and £180, depending on what is included in the test.
They are often used by women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or undergoing IVF to track menopause or fertility levels and may affect decisions about the need for additional medications or tests.
But Eurofins, a large UK-based laboratory, is still performing fingerstick tests for estradiol despite concerns the results may not always be accurate, research has found.
Eurofins’ own internal study, launched in 2021, found that blood samples taken by fingerstick were more likely to record lower estradiol levels than blood samples taken from a vein.
Online retailers sell fingerstick tests to detect a hormone called estradiol for between £50 and £180, but experts have warned they might not be reliable.
But it continued to process the tests on behalf of the online retailers after informing them of the discrepancy, according to the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The company’s experts, who have since left, told The BMJ that, in their opinion, the results of the company’s internal studies showed that the test was unreliable and that they should have stopped processing it.
A former employee said the fact that Eurofins continued to process these tests once potential problems had been identified demonstrated “a lack of duty of care and respect for patients”.
Another added: “Some customers who use this are bodybuilders, people on hormone replacement therapy, or people who may be going through IVF.” It is not an urgent medical test, but the result should be as accurate as possible.
“Every test has implications.”
Jessica Watson, a Bristol GP who investigates test use, said: “There is a risk that the results could be misinterpreted or misleading, and that could have implications for women if they believe they are more or less fertile, for example. “. , even if that only sways your decision-making a bit.
“And if that causes confusion or increases anxiety, they’ll probably contact their GP for advice and that has a knock-on effect on NHS services, which are massively overburdened.”
David Wells, CEO of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences, is trying to raise awareness about the lack of regulation of online labs and tests.
“Home testing and sampling lacks the levels of scrutiny and clinical supervision that would be found in a main laboratory serving a hospital accredited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) and regulated by the UKAS Quality Commission.” Pay attention,” he said.
“In essence, these are slightly outside of most regulations.”
The investigation reveals that Eurofins contacted online retail customers to tell them that the results of fingerstick tests were inferior compared to samples taken from a vein, but did not stop processing the tests.
Eurofins has been contacted for comment.