DOH releases new price caps on COVID-19 tests

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 01 2021 12:43 AM

MANILA - The Department of Health has reduced the price of RT-PCR tests again to make them more affordable and accessible in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below is the new price cap for RT-PCR testing based on DOH circular No. 2021-0323:

  • Public laboratories - P2,800 for plate-based, P2,450 for GeneXpert 
  • Private laboratories - P3,360 for plate-based, P2,940 for GeneXpert
  • Home service - P1,000 for both plate-based and GeneXpert

This will be effective on Sept. 6, 2021, the DOH said in the circular released on Tuesday.

The RT-PCR test, considered as the "gold standard" in COVID-19 testing, was priced around P3,800 in most public laboratories, and up to P5,000 in private laboratories in the Philippines as of early February this year, according to the DOH.

Citing reports of some doctors, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier Tuesday said that patients opt to forego RT-PCR testing due to its high cost. 

The department, meanwhile, has also set a price cap for rapid antigen testing, which is P960 in total.

In the DOH's breakdown, testing kits were pegged at P500, with government procurement priced at P452 and a 10% distribution cost at P45.

Operational cost of rapid testing, including laboratory supply and overhead, was set at P300 with a 20% allowable mark-up of P160. 

The rapid antigen testing price cap became effective on Aug. 16, 2021, the department said.

"All COVID-19 testing laboratories, health facilities, and centers are strictly to comply with this price cap," the circular, which was signed by Health Sec. Francisco Duque III, read.

It could change again depending on monthly reviews of the DOH, along with the Department of Trade and Industry, the DOH noted.

— With a report from Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

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