Kerala

RT-PCR test rate: HC declines to stay govt. order

The Kerala High Court on Friday declined to stay the government order reducing the charge of RT-PCR test in private laboratories to ₹500 from ₹1,700.

Justice N. Nagaresh observed that prima facie, it appeared that the government had arrived at the rate of RT-PCR test after conducting a market survey and study conducted through Kerala Medical Services Corporation Limited (KMSCL).

The court said that it was discernible from the statement filed by the government that the cost of RT-PCR test, including swab collection, would come to ₹135-₹240 only. In fact, the charge for the test in many of the other States, including Haryana, Telangana, and Uttarakhand, were within the same range as that fixed by the State government. Therefore, the court did not find any reason to pass an interim order, the court added.

The court also declined a plea by laboratory owners to restrain the government from taking coercive steps against the lab owners who did not adhere to the pricing policy of the government.

The order was passed on a writ petition filed by a group of laboratories challenging the slashing of prices for the test. The laboratory owners argued that that the average cost for conducting an RT-PCR test came to ₹1,500. Therefore, they could not afford to conduct the test at ₹500.

When the petitions came up for hearing, Additional Advocate General Ranjith Thampan submitted that while going through the cost per test for RT-PCR in private laboratories in other States with similar or lesser caseload, it was noticed that the Haryana, Telangana and Uttarakhand governments were charging only ₹500 while it was ₹400 in Odisha. The government had reduced the charges to ₹500 per test in private labs, taking into consideration the rates in other States and complaints that the rates in the State were high. In fact, in the month of March and April 2020, the cost of these kits was high due to the limited number of suppliers and transportation issues during the lockdown period. But gradually the situation improved and more manufactures started producing kits for the test. Different types of tests had been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and as a result, the rates for the test had come down, he submitted.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 3:35:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/rt-pcr-test-rate-hc-declines-to-stay-govt-order/article34507539.ece

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