EO eyed to regulate prices of Covid-19 tests: Palace

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President Rodrigo Duterte might sign an executive order (EO) that will impose a price cap for reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) swab tests for Covid-19, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement after the Department of Health 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 tests.

Roque raised the possibility as Duterte has previously signed an EO that regulates the prices of medicines.

He encouraged the public to avail of affordable RT-PCR tests donated by various institutions and enjoined hospitals and health facilities to lower the prices of their tests.

“Our appeal is, there are many laboratories, the government or private sector donated machines and kits. Lower the prices,” he said.

He appealed to the hospitals and health facilities not to take advantage of the demand for RT-PCR test kits. “I know some of you want to earn, but don’t do it. Let’s give the benefit to the people if you received free machines or tests from the government or private sector,” he said.

Roque said the prices of RT-PCR tests are also expected to lower once wide-scale pooled testing is launched.

The Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City, Negros Occidental, with one PCR machine, and the Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo, with one PCR and one extractor machine, are among the 15 of more than a hundred hospitals and health facilities nationwide that provide low-priced RT-PCR tests, ranging from P1,750 to P2,000.

Currently, the prices of RT-PCR testing vary in each testing facility.

In February, Duterte signed EO 104, or Improving Access to Healthcare through the Regulation of Prices in the Retail of Drugs and Medicines to impose price regulation through a maximum retail price, and maximum wholesale price on certain drugs and medicines.

The EO helped cut prices of over 100 drugs by around 56 percent from their prevailing market prices.*PNA

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