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Labs Agree to Reduce PCR tests to R500

By Umamah Bakharia

The Competition Commission reached an agreement with two major laboratories, Lancet and Ampath to reduce COVID PCR tests from R850 to R500 after a complaint from the Council of Medical Schemes alleging that the tests were unfairly inflated, exorbitant and unjustifiable.

Competition Comissions spokesperson, Sibulela Makunga spoke to Radio Islam on the price change.

“This is a groundbreaking change for South Africa,” says Makunga.

The commission launched an investigation earlier this year regarding the complaint and the commission according to Tembinkosi Bonakele, found that private laboratories had “exploit[ed] consumers by earning excessive profits on essential products or services”.

Tembinkosi Bonakele, Commissioner of the South African Competition Commission

The announcement was made yesterday by Bonakele during a press briefing.

Competition Commission Chief Economist James Hodge said the commission had asked all the respondents for the financial statements and detailed costing of their Covid tests.

However not all major laboratories followed suit, with Pathcare refusing to agree to the price reduction.

The commission is still investigating PathCare laboratories.

“Pathcare might also settle, failing which, the commission intends bringing an urgent application in the tribunal against Pathcare,” said Makunga.

The commission says that Omicron test prices are next on their list.

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