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Private labs should face consequences for ’exorbitant pricing’ of Covid-19 PCR tests – SACP

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The SACP has called for laboratories to face consequences following the significant profits made as a result of high Covid-19 PCR test pricing.

File image: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

THE SACP has called for laboratories to face consequences following the significant profits made as a result of high Covid-19 PCR test pricing.

On Sunday the Competition Commission held an urgent media briefing to inform the country of the “groundbreaking agreement” reached between two of South Africa’s biggest private laboratories, which will now see people paying R500 for a Covid-19 PCR test and not R850.

The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) laid a complaint against private pathology laboratories, alleging that the price for supplying PCR tests for Covid testing was “unfairly inflated, exorbitant and/or unjustifiable”.

Through investigations, the commission found that these labs have been making significant profits – although the amount of profits had not been confirmed.

According to Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele, between September and October the commission was alerted through a number of meetings and telephonic discussions – including discussions with the Department of Health and health-care funders – of possible pricing abuse for Covid-19 PCR tests to the detriment of vulnerable consumers and customers.

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said while welcoming the slashed price, the matter should be further investigated.

“There must be consequences for the profits made from the exorbitant pricing of the Covid-19 PCR tests.

“In general, to put people before profit, no health-care-related pricing should be left without scrutiny. Besides the Covid-19 PCR tests, among others the price of medicine is exorbitant. Steps need to be taken to protect the people against unfair pricing in the entire health-care sector,” he said.

Bonakele encouraged medical aid schemes and laboratories to adhere to the latest reduction in PCR tests.

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