The Competition Commission has reached agreements with South Africa’s three largest private pathology groups – Pathcare, Lancet, and Ampath – to reduce the price of Covid-19 rapid antigen tests to no more than R150 inclusive of VAT.
These changes will take place with immediate effect and will remain in place for two years.
“The three laboratories have also undertaken to submit to the Commission, a compliance report that will include financial statements every three months, to monitor prices charged for Covid-19 Rapid Antigen tests and any material changes in costs,” added the Competition Commission.
This is the second set of agreements between South Africa’s top private pathology groups and the Competition Commission, following agreements reached earlier this month to reduce the price of Covid-19 PCR tests to R500 each.
“It was during the PCR test investigation that the Commission became aware that similar concerns may exist in relation to Covid-19 Rapid Antigen tests,” said the Competition Commission.
Private laboratories and retail distributors had historically charged between R320 and R350 for a rapid antigen test, and had reduced this to between R230 and R250 within the past 30 days.
In contrast, the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) charges R150, and given that a test kit costs just R50 through UNICEF, prices above R150 were deemed to be excessive.
“This is yet another major victory for South Africans, particularly the vulnerable groups during the time of a devastating and resilient pandemic,” said Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele.
“The reduction of Covid-19 Rapid Antigen test prices will help alleviate the plight of consumers and widen accessibility and affordability of Covid-19 Rapid Antigen testing, which is a critical part of the initiatives to avoid the escalation of the pandemic.”
“The Commission will continue with its investigation on supply and delivery of Covid-19 Rapid Antigen tests,” Bonakele added.
“We will not hesitate to apply for maximum administrative penalties against companies found guilty of exploiting consumers and customers.”