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Guidelines on COVID-19 test price cap to be released this week

November 23, 2020 - Monday 8:11 PM by PNA

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MANILA – The guidelines for the implementation of a price cap for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) testing and test kits will be released within the week, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are currently preparing the guidelines on the price cap.

“Well, iyan naman po ay didesisyunan ng DOH at ng DTI at kung hindi po ako nagkakamali baka itong linggong ito ay mayroon na pong price cap na ilalabas (The DOH and DTI would have to decide on that and if I’m not mistaken the price cap will be released within the week),” he said.

On Nov. 4, Duterte signed Executive Order 118 placing a price cap on reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing and test kits for Covid-19.

In signing the EO, Duterte recognized the priority of the state to ensure that the general public, especially those from low- and middle-income households, have “equitable access” to quality and affordable healthcare services such as Covid-19 tests.

"The DOH, in coordination with the DTI, is hereby directed to determine, formulate, and implement a price range for Covid-19 testing conducted by hospitals, laboratories, and other health establishments and facilities, included the test kits used in the conduct of said tests, subject to existing laws, rules, and regulations," the EO reads.

The DOH and DTI must also ensure that the price range for Covid-19 testing and test kits is "just, equitable, and sensitive to all stakeholders."

Both agencies must undertake continuous monitoring and review of the price and market supply of Covid-19 test kits and other basic medical items and supplies, and issue such price control measures and adjustments as may be necessary.

Currently, the cost for the gold standard test ranges from PHP3,500 to as high as PHP8,150. However, several hospitals and health facilities offer affordable tests that cost PHP1,750 to PHP2,000.

Roque said the Palace has repeatedly appealed to the hospitals and health facilities not to take advantage of the demand for RT-PCR test kits.

Last September, the DOH submitted to the Office of the President a recommendation for the issuance of an EO that imposes a ceiling on the prices of RT-PCR testing and tests.

The Department of Tourism also appealed for a price cap on the RT-PCR and antigen tests to promote domestic tourism, which in turn can generate employment and stimulate economic recovery.  Azer Parrocha