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Khan Fires Back At Indiana Officials Over Test Kits

“They burn me down in press conferences? That's insane.”

The owner of a northside toxicology lab who provided New York City 50,000 coronavirus test kits sharply criticized Indiana state officials for not accepting his offer to help test more Hoosiers on Friday.

In an interview with Indianapolis Monthly, Zak Khan, a Carmel resident who owns Aria Diagnostics, says the state “belittled” his company. “They don’t have to use us,” he says. “We’re just a small company with two partners. We’re not a billion-dollar company like Eli Lilly. I would expect the state department of health to support small businesses. Not hurt us.”

In a press conference last week, Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana’s State Health Commissioner, questioned Aria Diagnostic’s ability to report results in a timely fashion to the state.

“They burn me down in press conferences?” says Khan. “That’s insane.”

According to Khan, those comments came the same day he delivered the kits to the state. “I hadn’t even received a thank you,” he says. “I was trying to reach out with an olive branch. I was very angry.”

Khan is supervising the assembly of as many as 100,000 coronavirus test kits per week—and shipping  half of those to New York City for the next eight weeks. That’s just shy of the 54,785 tests Indiana has performed. 

Zak KhanCourtesy Zak Khan

On Friday evening, after an Indianapolis Monthly story raised questions about the state’s alleged refusal of tens of thousands of tests from Aria, the Indiana State Department of Health said in a release that they had not “declined any offers of swabs from Aria Diagnostics.”

In its statement, the ISDH noted it “has been working diligently to acquire testing supplies and expand testing through partnerships with Eli Lilly and the addition of other labs” and that swabs donated by Aria would help to increase the state’s testing capacity.

Khan, though, never suggested that the state turned down swabs. Instead, he told Indianapolis Monthly, the state rejected his offer of tests, similar to what he supplied to New York City.

Asked to clarify the apparent discrepancy, Jennifer O’Malley, a spokesperson for the state health department said: “Dr. Box never rejected any supplies that would help increase testing in Indiana. She was extremely appreciative of the swabs donated and informed Mr. Kahn that we had viral transport media covered and did not want to take those supplies from others who needed them.”

 

Adam Wren writes about business, politics, and crime for Indianapolis Monthly—often in the same story. Follow him on Twitter @adamwren or visit his website at adamwren.me.
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