The Competition Commission, along with three of South Africa’s largest private pathology groups, Pathcare, Lancet
and Ampath, have agreed to the price reduction of COVID-19 Rapid Antigen tests to no more than R150, inclusive of VAT, with immediate effect.
This is the second successive price reduction settlement the Commission has concluded with the three private laboratory groups in less than 14 days.
This reduction will remain in effect for a two year period from the date of confirmation of the consent agreements.
The Commission is also currently pursuing an investigation against a large retail pharmacy chain, which follows a complaint lodged by the Department of Health (DOH), on December 14 2021, against service providers delivering COVID-19 Rapid Antigen tests in South Africa to consumers.
“DOH’s complaint is a culmination of the Commission’s extensive consultations and engagements with relevant stakeholders in the healthcare sector regarding the pricing of COVID-19 PCR tests, and the successful investigation of the high price of PCR tests.
“It was during the PCR test investigation… which reduced the price of PCR tests to R500 inclusive of VAT… that the Commission became aware that similar concerns may exist in relation to COVID-19 Rapid Antigen tests,” the statement reads.
DOH’s complaint alleges that private laboratories and retail distributers have historically charged around R350 for a rapid antigen test, reducing recently to around R250 in November and December 2021.
“This is yet another major victory for South Africans, particularly the vulnerable groups during the time of a devastating and resilient pandemic. 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. We will not hesitate to apply for maximum administrative penalties against companies found guilty of exploiting consumers and customers,” warns Competition Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele.