Call for govt to make price affordable for all

Much-needed device: Damia Mohamed Naqiuddin, five, picking up one of the Covid-19 self-test kits as her mother Liyana Mohd Sarib and Health Lane Family Pharmacy pharmacist A. Darshainy look on in Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

PETALING JAYA: There is no shortage of the Covid-19 self-test kits in the market despite the impending government price review on the medical device to make it more affordable.

Malaysian Pharmacists Society president Amrahi Buang said there is sufficient supply among all licensed private healthcare facilities who have been informed not to overstock the item.

“There is no shortage so far. Pharmacies are aware of the coming price review and they have been advised not to overstock the items and be ready for the change.

“We are ready so there are no more overstocking like last time,” he said yesterday.

Amrahi said stocks of the self-test kits are still coming into the country despite the impending price review.

“We have a sense of responsibility and want to help the government in transitioning to the endemic phase living with the virus.

“As long as the government makes the announcement early, all will be ready,” he said.

Currently, the ceiling retail price for the self-test kit is RM19.90, while the wholesale price is RM16 (down from the previous RM39.90 when the test kit was first introduced).

“It would be good to lower the price to make it affordable for all. But we have to be fair too because if the price is too low with no return on investment, then no one would import the device.

“The government should engage with producers, importers and other industry players before deciding, and sort out a few things, such as the presence of middlemen, parallel import and logistics issues facing Sabah and Sarawak.

“Otherwise, how are they going to control it?” he said.

Amrahi said the government should not liberalise the sales of the self-test kits because it is a medical device that has been given conditional permission to be sold.

He said the liberalisation practice would see anyone selling it to the consumers, which may have quality issues and other problems such as inferior or fake products.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Koh Kar Chai supported the plan to further lower the price of the self-test kits.

“However, sufficient time should be given for distributors and retailers alike to clear existing stocks, which were brought in at higher cost much earlier,” he said.

Dr Koh added that the government should consider giving subsidies for the test kits to make them more affordable for the public.

Universiti Malaya’s Centre of Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Practice Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming has also made similar calls so that people from all levels of society are able to protect themselves as the country progresses to the endemic phase. She said the self-test kits should be made easily available and cheaper, preferably below RM10.

Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye also called for the reduced price to be expedited because the test kits would be an essential household item moving forward.

“It is important to help the B40 and M40 groups because self-testing would be one of the main requirements for activities,” he said, adding that it should not be more than RM10 or should be given out for free.

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Covid-19 , self-test kits , price review


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