"I can't believe this hasn't been done."
That's the feedback Bethany Edwards, CEO of Lia Diagnostics, routinely receives about her company's new pregnancy test design, which just secured FDA approval.
And based on the discretion, disposability and sustainability it offers, we couldn't agree more. Made out of paper, the Lia test is foldable and flushable, ensuring privacy in a way the standard sticks can't. And since that paper comes from cellulose, they're also biodegradable.
It was that issue of sustainability that really got the project started.
The creators, a group of University of Pennsylvania students and a faculty member, asked themselves which products long outlive their shelf life. Single-use medical items were quickly deemed among the most wasteful. From there, the team focused on home pregnancy tests, which haven't seen much of a revamp in 30 years.
"These companies have been focused on ways to increase their margins by charging consumers more," Edwards says of traditional test brands. "They're adding expensive digital components that offer optical readers that will read the results for you—and they're adding to a higher price point."
But Edwards says that misses the mark: Women want privacy and usability more than bells and whistles. Lia improves functionality by widening the target area that women pee on and providing a clear reading. Thanks to "microfluidic channels" running across the test, one side will change color for positive, the other for negative.
The test will be available on Amazon and the Lia website in mid-2018. The team expects it will cost somewhere between $9 and $22.