Rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 is fast disappearing from the shelves of some BC pharmacies, and at least one pharmacy owner is worried about pricing.
Peter Dang, owner of Harvard Pharmacy in Vancouver, said the quick tests were previously available for purchase at $ 5 each, but a private company recently offered to sell them to him at $ 16 each.
His only stock flew off the shelves as soon as it arrived and he could not replace it.
“The cost goes up and up and it is not fair for the public to pay whatever the retail price is for it,” Dang said in an interview with Global News. “It’s not cheap.”
Other pharmacies told Global News that fast test kits sell for about $ 28 each. Prices are cheaper online, but often require bulk purchases ranging from $ 200 to $ 400 for 25 tests.
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Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, under pressure over pricing and instant shortages during a pandemic briefing, said she could not comment on private market prices.
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However, she noted that there is a “global shortage” of rapid tests.
“We’re looking at our neighbors in the south where they’re trying to get large numbers that affect the amount we got from Canada, so I expect that has something to do with that, too,” she said.
“We will continue to make the tests available in those settings where they are most useful.”
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British Columbia expects 10.8 million rapid tests from Ottawa between now and mid-February, and they will be distributed based on provincial priorities – including schools, long-term care homes and health care facilities.
“Of course no one wants to see someone stabbed, and that’s something to look at,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said at the briefing. “It’s out of the health care system … we’ll look at it, of course.”
The province said in December it hoped to expand home testing kits for British Columbians this month.
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