HOUSE Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo on Friday reiterated her proposal for the government to set at P2,000-P2,500 the price cap on the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) swab test.
“The price should be affordable by the poor to encourage them to subject themselves to the gold-standard reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) screening if they show any symptom of new coronavirus infection,” Castelo said.
Castelo said based on information she received, the cost of RT-PCR varies from P3,500, which is the price the Philippine National Red Cross charges, to a high of P12,500.
She added that P12,500 is the rate some private hospitals charge for those who avail themselves of their drive-through service and who want results to be available in 24 hours.
The lawmaker pointed out that government hospitals are charging higher rates than the Red Cross.
“Based on prevailing prices, I am suggesting that an affordable rate would be P2,000-P2,500. The results should be available in 24 hours,” Castelo added.
She stressed that hospitals and laboratories offering RT-PCR screening would still make money given the sheer number of patients required to subject themselves to such test.
“Hospitals now require proof of RT-PCR with negative result before a patient could be admitted. The same is required of people undergoing dialysis in hospitals and dialysis centers. Apparently, the requirement is a COVID-19 prevention measure,” she said.
Castelo stressed that if the price goes down to P2,000-P2,500, even people who are not sick but who want to make sure that they don’t have the virus will subject themselves to RT-PCR screening.
“P2,000-P2,500 every 15 days, when symptoms begin to manifest, or at least once a month for one’s peace of mind. RT-PCR centers will not run out of test applicants,” she said.
Castelo added that fixing a single, affordable rate would also prevent people from flocking to one or two hospitals offering swab testing at lower cost.
Earlier, Castelo urged the Department of Health (DoH) to regulate prices of COVID-19 therapeutic drugs, including remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, dexamethasone, and ivermectin.
“Their prices have shot up by as much as 12 times. One of these drugs now costs about P60,000, if you can find it in the market,” she said.
She said based on the testimonies of doctors here and around the world, these drugs could prevent the deterioration of COVID-19 and hasten the recovery of patients.