PRRD might sign EO to regulate prices of swab tests for Covid-19

MANILA – 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 the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after the Department of Health (DOH) 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.

“Ang Presidente po ay nag-issue ng (The President issued an) executive order imposing price caps on medicine so I don’t think it is impossible for him to issue this executive order,” he said in a virtual Palace briefing.

Roque 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.

“Ang panawagan po natin, napakadaming laboratories, gobyerno po ang nag-donate o kaya pribadong sektor ang nag-donate ng makina at mga test kits. Ibaba niyo po ang mga presyo (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.

“Alam ko po may mga nagnanais sa inyo bagamat non-profit kayo na kumita, huwag naman po. Ibigay na po natin sa taumbayan yung benepisyo pag kayo po ay nakatanggap ng libreng makina galing sa gobyerno o pribadong sektor o mga libreng mga testing 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.

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

Among the hospitals and health facilities that provide low-priced RT-PCR tests ranging from PHP1,750 to PHP2,000 are:

Philippine Children Medical Center (2 PCR machines, 2 extractor machines);

Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (1 PCR machine, 2 extractor machines);

Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital (1 PCR machine, 2 extractor machines);

Perpetual Help Medical Center – Las Piñas (2 PCR machines, 2 extractor machines);

National Kidney and Transplant Institute (1 extractor machine);

Lung Center of the Philippines (2 extractor machines);

Western Visayas Medical Center – Iloilo (1 PCR machine, 1 extractor machine);

Vicente Sotto Memorial medical City – Cebu (1 extractor machine);

University of Cebu Medical Center – Cebu (1 extractor machine);

Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center – Tacloban, Leyte (1 extractor machine);

Baguio General Hospital (1 PCR machine);

Zamboanga City Medical Center (1 PCR machine);

Paul’s Hospital – Tacloban, Leyte (1 extractor machine);

Teresita Jalandoni Provincial General Hospital – Negros Occidental (1 PCR machine);

Cebu Molecular Laboratory (1 PCR machine); and

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

In February, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 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 (MRP), maximum wholesale price (MWP) 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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