Government Mulls Cutting Covid-19 PCR Test Prices

Khairy Jamaluddin says the government will look at a “reasonable” price for PCR tests.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — The government will consider reducing the price of RT-PCR tests to help expand the country’s testing and tracing capacity for Covid-19.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said he will try and find ways to slash the cost of PCR tests in the private market, which was capped at RM150 under the Emergency Ordinance. It is unclear what the price cap for PCR tests is now following the end of the emergency period on August 1.

Random checks across multiple hospitals in the Klang Valley showed that Prince Court Medical Centre charges up to RM330 per test, Sunway Medical Centre (RM270 per test), Subang Jaya Medical Centre (RM295 per test), and Avisena Specialist Hospital (RM300 per test).

“So we had a discussion with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) for both RT-PCR as well as RTK Antigen that’s done by professional labs. So, we are looking at a reasonable price that we can do the RT-PCR.

“But just for your information, I know it is quite expensive if it’s over RM300, but our prices are quite low compared to other countries. We will try to see how we can bring it down further,” Khairy said at a September 28 meeting with the Dewan Rakyat health, science and innovation committee, based on meeting transcripts published in the committee’s 634-page “Transitioning from Pandemic to Endemic Covid-19 Safely and Sustainably” report that was tabled in Parliament on November 1.

Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, who is a member of the parliamentary committee, argued that the PCR test price could be reduced to RM150 or lower.

“I think if greater emphasis is given, I think RM150, they can do it. I have clinics (in my area) that have their own labs. I went there and all I had to pay was RM130. The cost, I was told, was not more than RM70. This is what I was told,” Abdul Azeez said.

Khairy noted that the price also depended on test volumes. “Exactly, but if there is a guideline from your ministry, I think everyone can follow suit,” Abdul Azeez said.

In an earlier meeting with the committee on September 14, Khairy said the government will also consider subsidising antigen RTK test kits for certain groups.

He was then asked by the parliament select committee’s chair, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, if the government had any additional plans to subsidise RTK test kits to below RM10.

Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Alexander Nanta Linggi last week announced that RTK Covid-19 tests can now be purchased for as low as RM6.60 at convenience stores like KK Mart.

Nanta Linggi said apart from pharmacies, the government plans to increase the availability of screening kits at supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations in stages. He said expanding the sale of the kits to more premises will encourage competition and will help to bring prices down for consumers.

The price ceiling for RTK test kits currently remains at RM16 for wholesale kits and RM19.90 for retail. Khairy previously said that the government will revise the ceiling price once the current supply is cleared.

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