Lawmakers name for investigation into at-home COVID take a look at value gouging

Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal are calling on the Federal Commerce Fee to launch an investigation into studies of value gouging surrounding over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 take a look at kits.

In a letter despatched to FTC Chair Lina Khan Wednesday morning, the senators say the surging demand for at-home exams as a result of Omicron variant is creating situations which can be “sadly excellent for predatory and profiteering conduct, together with the sale of fraudulent take a look at kits or charging exorbitant costs for these which can be accessible.”

Final month, New York Lawyer Normal Letita James issued a client alert over potential value gouging after receiving complaints of at-home exams being offered at double or triple their retail costs. Some had been allegedly going for greater than $40, and even as much as $70, per package deal.

Markey can also be sending letters Wednesday to the producers of at-home take a look at kits, calling for them to decrease their costs and to supply details about their manufacturing prices.

“I’m significantly involved that the price of at-home speedy COVID-19 antigen exams considerably exceeds their manufacturing value,” Markey writes, citing studies British take a look at makers peg manufacturing prices at round $2, however testing kits can promote for upwards of $20.

Abbott, Entry Bio, ACON Laboratories, Becton, Dickinson & Firm, Celltrion USA, Ellume Well being, iHealth Labs, InBios Worldwide, OraSure Applied sciences and Quidel will all obtain his data request.

The Massachusetts Democrat may even write to retailers, together with Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, CVS Well being, Walgreens, Ceremony Help, Sam’s Membership, Goal and Costco, searching for particulars on how they’re marking the value for at-home exams.

In an announcement to CBS Information, Markey stated that People want to have the ability to afford the at-home exams to allow them to “shield themselves, their family members, and their communities from the unfold of COVID-19.”

“Whereas the federal authorities works to extend entry to those exams, producers and retailers ought to promote these important and vital instruments at value by way of the general public well being emergency,” he stated. “A pandemic just isn’t a time to wring shoppers for revenue.”

The inquiries come on the heels of the Biden administration launching a web site the place People can order free speedy antigen COVID-19 exams and have them shipped on to their properties. Each family is eligible for 4 exams, and they are going to be delivered by the Postal Service starting in late January. 

Final week, the Biden administration introduced one other initiative which would require personal medical insurance corporations to cowl the price of eight at-home exams per member of the family every month with the objective of constructing speedy exams extra accessible. Critics of the plan argued that exams nonetheless stay onerous to return by, and that they need to both be despatched on to People or be free on the level of buy.

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