Price cap for swab testing set

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    PRIVATE laboratories conducting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) swab tests or RT-PCR testing that charge exorbitant fees will soon have to settle for a minimum charge of P4,500 and a maximum of P5,000.

    Public laboratories, meanwhile, can charge a maximum of P3,800.

    Health Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday said the DOH and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have issued a Joint Administrative Order (JAO) providing a price cap for reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests in the country “to make testing accessible and affordable to all.”

    Duque did not say when the JAO was issued. The order takes effect once it is published in a newspaper of general circulation.

    In a virtual press briefing yesterday, Duque said the price cap is inclusive of all costs associated with testing.

    “This is also to prevent abuses by some laboratories, whose only objective is to make profits and take advantage of our countrymen,” Duque said.

    “(The price range) is evidence-based after an extensive price assessment made by experts, and the conduct of market survey and market study,” Duque said.

    Some private laboratories currently charge P8,000 or more per test while Red Cross tests usually cost P4,000. The Lung Center of the Philippines charges P1,500 per test.

    Duque warned that laboratories charging beyond the price cap will be fined from P20,000 to P30,000 and have their license to operate suspended for 15 days or revoked.

    “There will be a number, where the public can report violations. We will also have joint monitoring, evaluation, and enforcement units with the DTI,” Duque said.

    Last November 4, President Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 118 ordering the DOH and DTI to determine, formulate, and implement a price range for COVID-19 testing being conducted by hospitals, laboratories, and other health establishments and facilities.