Sale of COVID-19 test kits goes unchecked in Tiruchi

Brisk sale of self-test kits of COVID-19 in pharmacies has largely gone unchecked in Tiruchi.

Though rapid antigen kits have been available in pharmacies since last June, shortly after the second wave of COVID-19, it is said that sales has gained momentum since the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the first week of January.

People with mild fever, sore throat, fatigue, headache and running nose, visit the pharmacies to get rapid antigen kits, available for ₹250. One of the kits marketed by a leading company claims the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approved kits will reveal the results within 15 minutes. It contains a user manual that details four steps to find the results. The people who buy the kits use them similar to pregnancy test cards. Nearly 60% of the medical stores in Tiruchi are said to have stocks of rapid antigen kits.

“Pharmacies witness brisk sale of self-test kits since the first week of January. There is a huge demand for the kits in the market. Sensing heavy demand, the pharmacies have placed fresh orders of the kits, a dealer in Tiruchi told The Hindu .

He said that a section of pharmacies, which had procured the kits during the second wave of COVID-19, could not clear the stock due to a decline in new cases in the latter part of 2021. Hence, several of them sent return notes to their respective dealers. They had reservations in supplying the test kits to the pharmacies again.

The patients, who were tested positive for the virus by the rapid antigen kits, invariably opt for self-medication. While some manage to contact the doctors by telemedicine, others get medicine at the pharmacies for common cold and fever. What is causing concern is that those testing positive through rapid antigen tests fail to inform the officials. Moreover, the patients with mild symptoms do their routine as usual.

“We strongly recommend the people not to use rapid antigen test as it may not be accurate. Sometimes it may mislead the patients. We go by the RT-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, for which sample is being taken at all government hospitals for free,’ says Subramani, Deputy Director, Health Services, Tiruchi district.

No pharmacies in the district should sell rapid antigen kits. A circular would be sent through the competent authorities to the pharmacies to stop selling them. Action would be taken against those selling them, he added.

Dr. Subramani said that it had been observed that fresh cases of COVID-19 had been spreading at a lightning pace. However, most of them required medication for three to five days. Only 10% of the positive cases required hospitalisation and there was no cause for alarm.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 11:42:41 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/sale-of-covid-19-test-kits-goes-unchecked-in-tiruchi/article38283449.ece