The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has backtracked on the Rs 4,500 price ceiling it had set for conducting polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test in private laboratories. It has also directed state governments and Union Territories to negotiate with private laboratories to fix “mutually agreeable” rates for the test.
In a letter to the state chief secretaries on Monday, ICMR Director General (D-G) Dr Balram Bhargava said the COVID-19 diagnostic supplies are stabilising because of the indigenous production of the kits. “In this backdrop and keeping in view the evolving prices of testing commodities, the earlier suggested upper ceiling of Rs 4500 vide letter dated March 17, may not be applicable now,” he was quoted as saying by a PTI report.
“Therefore, all state governments/UT administrations are advised to negotiate with private labs and fix up mutually agreeable prices for samples being sent by the government and also for private individuals desirous of testing by these labs,” Bhargava said in the letter.
He said at the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic there was a global crisis of testing kits and reagents as India was heavily reliant on imported products for molecular detection of viruses. As such in mid-march, no rates for RT-PCR test for coronavirus were available for reference in the country.