Ministry 'closely monitors' ATK price gouging

Ministry 'closely monitors' ATK price gouging

A health worker takes a swab for an antigen test for Covid-19 at the government complex in Laksi district, Bangkok, on Jan 4. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
A health worker takes a swab for an antigen test for Covid-19 at the government complex in Laksi district, Bangkok, on Jan 4. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

The Commerce Ministry is monitoring antigen test kits (ATK) prices to ensure they remain affordable for the public amid a surge of Covid-19 infections in Bangkok and provinces.

Mallika Boonmeetrakul, an adviser to the commerce minister, said on Monday that consumers can report overpriced ATKs to the 1569 hotline or provincial commerce offices.

From the information received, officers will conduct investigations and charge sellers if they are found to sell ATKs at higher than actual prices.

Prices of some brands have increased due to high demand along with stock shortages in both e-markets and drug stores. There are reports of kits costing over 100 baht in the market.

The prices are anticipated to become stable or lower, especially as National Health Security Office (NHSO) and Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) roll out free ATKs, officials have said. 

The Public Health Ministry reported that there are 140 ATK producers and importers permitted by the GPO to sell ATKs in the country. Some 170 products have been permitted by the GPO, but only 63 of them are available.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said an NHSO commission meeting had asked all health service offices to speed up their testing efforts.

Mr Anutin also asked that the distribution of ATKs be done quickly so as to assist those at greater risk, such as people in crowded communities and those using public transport.

The NHSO has currently nearly 1 million kits which will help lower the market prices of ATKs to 20-40 baht.

Officers have been put in place to receive up to 20,000 phone calls per day to arrange medication for home isolation and community isolation treatments, monitor patients’ symptoms and seek hospital beds. There are around 4,500-5,000 calls currently being made by people seeking help each day.

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