Coeliac testing in pharmacies not reliable
22 September 2015
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has issued a warning to consumers to avoid in-pharmacy tests for coeliac disease, or risk being misdiagnosed.
Several major Australian pharmacy chains are offering the $45 finger-prick test, claiming accurate results within 10 minutes.
But the AMA says the tests are dangerous and unreliable.
NSW president Dr Saxon Smith, who himself suffers from coeliac disease, warns of high rates of false positive and false negative results with the in-pharmacy tests.
"Coeliac disease is a notoriously difficult to diagnose illness and can only be definitively diagnosed by a small bowel biopsy performed by a doctor," he says.
The AMA’s concerns have been backed by Coeliac Australia, who say false positive results occur in up to 10% of these coeliac tests, with false negatives reported in 15–20%.
Gastroenterologists have also expressed their concern about the tests that are currently being rolled out across the country in Amcal and Guardian pharmacies.
However, Amcal, one of the pharmacy groups offering the test, has defended its offering. In a statement from parent company Sigma this week, it says the coeliac test is not a diagnosis, but a risk assessment designed to motivate patients to have a “fact-based discussion with their GP”.