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Competition Commission announces decrease in Covid-19 PCR test

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons  Time of article published 22h ago

Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele has announced that pricing for the Covid-19 PCR test has been reduced from R850 to R500 with immediate effect.

This groundbreaking agreement was agreed between the Competition Tribunal and private laboratories Du Buisson Kramer Swart Bouwer Incorporated (Ampath), Drs Mauff AC & Partners trading as Lancet Laboratories.

Bonakele said in October the Competition Commission received a formal complaint from the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) against private pathology laboratories alleging that the price for supplying PCR tests for covid testing was “unfairly inflated, exorbitant and/or unjustifiable”.

He explained that between September and October 2021, the commission was alerted through a number of meetings and telephone discussions (including discussions with the Department of Health and healthcare funders of a possible pricing abuse for Covid-19 PCR tests to the detriment of consumers and customers.

It was alleged that private pathology laboratories have experienced substantial cost reductions in conducting Covid-19 PCR tests and were processing significant volumes (especially during infection waves), yet the price charged by the private pathology laboratories for tests remained high and unchanged at R850.

“We expect that other stakeholders, including Pathcare who have not yet settled the matter, and other laboratories will come forward and resolve the matter. The litigation between Pathcare continues,” he said.

“We also know that there are many other laboratories that are not involved in the investigations at this stage.

“We call upon all laboratories to comply with this settlement and offer a price of no more than R500, including VAT.

“We will be monitoring this, and where necessary we will take action. We also expect that the intermediaries, such as medical aid schemes to pass on these savings to consumers,” Bonakele said.

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