DOH wants Palace to regulate prices of swab tests

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2020 11:58 AM | Updated as of Sep 21 2020 12:00 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday said it is asking the Office of the President to regulate the price of COVID-19 tests, especially swab tests.

“Nakapagsubmit na kami sa Office of the President ng recommendation for an executive order (EO) issuance dahil napansin nating itong iba-iba, differential pricing across the different laboratories in the country," ,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(We have submitted to the Office o the President the recommendation for an executive order issuance. Because we noticed the differential pricing across the different laboratories in the country.)

Vergeire said they particularly saw the disparity in the prices of swab tests. 

Laboratories charge as low as P3,000 to as high as P12,000 for a swab or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The PCR test is considered the gold standard in COVID-19 testing and is the only way to confirm if a patient has the virus.

“Ito ay inaantay natin na bigyan tayo ng tugon kung saka-sakaling ito ay maaprubahan,” she said of the EO. 

(We are just waiting to a response in case this is approved.)

Vergeire said they asked for an EO because there is already a law on the setting of a price ceiling for medicines.

“Pero hindi nakasama kasi 'yung diagnostics and even professional fees. That is what we have tried to study at ito po ang ating hinihiling baka for this pandemic situation - we would be able to have this executive order so that we can somehow regulate the prices of swabs or the prices of testing for COVID-19,” she said.

(But the law did not include diagnostic tests or even professional fees. That is what we have tried to study and that is what we are asking for this pandemic situation - we would be able to have this executive order so that we can somehow regulate the prices of swabs or the prices of testing for COVID-19.)