DOH eyes price cap for COVID-19 tests

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    AMID steep price increases, the Department of Health yesterday said it has asked Malacañang to issue an executive order that will impose a price cap for swab tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

    Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said, “What we are asking is that, during this pandemic, we can be able to have this EO so that we can somehow regulate the prices of swab testing for COVID-19.”

    She said the DOH is authorized to regulate only the prices of drugs and medicines, but not of diagnostic tests and professional fees.

    “We noticed the difference in pricing across the different laboratories in the country. We also how much swab testing costs costs now,” she said referring to the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.

    A check online showed there are COVID-19 tests in some medical facilities that are priced as high as P19,000 and as low as P1,500.

    The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation provides a COVID-19 testing package, but with rates ranging only from P901 to P3,409.

    Vergeire said the DOH is also exploring proposals on where antigen tests can be used to screen individuals for COVID-19.

    Rapid antigen tests are commonly used in the diagnosis of respiratory pathogens, including COVID-19. It is done by capturing nasopharyngeal or nasal swab specimens of an individual, with results expected in about 15 minutes.