KUCHING, Sept 5 — The price of Covid-19 self-test kits will be lowered again by this year end to ensure its affordability for all, said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) Minister Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi.
Currently, the wholesale price for Covid-19 self-test kits has been fixed at RM16 a unit and the retail price at RM19.90 a unit and set under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 (AKHAP 2011) and Control of Supplies Act 1961, which took effect starting today.
“The price of the Covid-19 self-test kits will be further lowered again before the year end, I cannot say how much, so that it is more affordable to more people,” he said when met after conducting a price check of the kits at a pharmacy at tHe Spring Shopping Mall today.
He added that this was because the Covid-19 self-test kits were becoming a necessity, like the face mask, during this pandemic.
He stressed that the decision to set a ceiling price for the Covid-19 self-test kits was not done in a hurry, as the ministry took about a month, and had engaged and consulted with local industry players, relevant agencies and manufacturers, among others before deciding on the ceiling price.
“I have given a statement, to give retailers one-week grace period for price adjustment of the kits. Our enforcement team will monitor and give reminder to sellers and retailers. We will also go to the suppliers as it also has a ceiling price for wholesale.”
Similarly, the Medical Device Authority (MDA) has put a condition that these kits can only be sold at pharmacies, but yesterday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that it will be allowed to be sold at other shops aside from pharmacies, to make it more accessible, said Nanta.
“Currently there are 16 brands of the Covid-19 self-test kits registered with MDA, and we will add to this so that there is more competition so that the price can be lowered. Like face masks, when there are many choices, the price is cheaper, and everyone can buy it.”
When asked if other health devices related to the Covid-19 would have a price ceiling, like the pulse oximeter (an electronic device that measures the saturation of oxygen carried in red blood cells) and Covid-19 swab test at medical facilities, he said it depended on the need.
“If it is very important, we will do the same.
“For the swab test, there is no price control. KJ (Khairy Jamaluddin) said that it is being looked into and the Health Ministry will consult KPDNHEP. If we have reached a reasonable level, there will be a price ceiling for swab test.”
On the enforcement and monitoring on the price for the Covid-19 self-test kits, Nanta said the enforcement team has no problem in reaching all areas in the country quickly to ensure compliance.
This include rural areas in the state, he said.
“Now we have held checks in pharmacies throughout the country, almost 3,000 checks. We don’t wait. We know it’s important so that no one buys the kits more expensive.
“Our enforcement work hard and go to the ground to carry out their duties.”
The price ceiling was announced in a joint statement on Thursday (Sept 2) by Nanta and Khairy.
Individuals can be fined up to RM100,000, or imprisoned not more than three years, or both, if convicted for the offence. They could also be issued compound notices of up to RM50,000.
Companies are liable to a fine of RM500,000 or a compound notice of up to RM250,000.
Present were KPDNHEP state director Datuk Stanley Tan and Shine Pharmacy managing director Charles Liew. — Borneo Post