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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has announced removing the price cap of Rs 4,500 for the test used to detect COVID-19.
In a letter to the state Chief Secretaries, the nodal body monitoring the coronavirus situation in the country removed the ceiling price for the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
It has asked the states and the Union Territories (UT to negotiate with private labs to fix "mutually agreeable" rates for the test.
Indigenous production of the kits pushed the quantity and availability of the diagnostic supplies amid the outbreak, which has been cited as the reason to remove the price upper limit.
"In this backdrop and keeping in view the evolving prices of testing commodities, the earlier suggested upper ceiling of Rs 45,00 dated March 17, may not be applicable now," said ICMR Director-General (D-G) Dr Balram Bhargav.
"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.
The letter stated that during the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic since there was a global crisis of medical supplies, India faced the shortages of testing kits and was dependent on imported products.
Since there was no rate-reference for RT-PCR test for coronavirus during mid-march, the ICMR suggested the upper limit of a single test at Rs 4500 considering the cost of imported kits and efforts put in to carry out the test.
There are 428 government and 182 private labs for COVID-19 testing across all states and UTs in the country.
"Now testing supplies are also stabilising and many of you have started procuring such kits from the local market. Due to varied options of testing materials/kits, including indigenous ones, the prices are becoming competitive and undergoing reduction," Bhargava said.
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