Thu. May 26th, 2022

The Consumer Watchdog says it is investigating reports that COVID-19 rapid antigen tests are being sold at too high prices, but it has not yet seen signs of a widespread price drop.

The federal government asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to monitor pricing after several instances of individual rapid antigen tests being sold at several times their normal price.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said the watchdog was now investigating the matter, but so far he had not seen systematic price spills.

“It’s very early … at this point we’ve done our own web searches and seen overpriced, but the most overpriced we’ve seen so far is [individuals] on eBay, Kogan, “Mr. Sims said.

He said the ACCC would contact eBay about the rapid test price cut it had seen and expected them to help remove the listings.

But Mr. Sims indicated that the ACCC was unlikely to pursue lawsuits against price dropers in the first place, saying the watchdog was more successful in threatening to “name and shame” companies.

“Obviously we are dealing here with a problem of limited duration … therefore we need to get these prices down now,” he said.

A person holds a thin white rectangular box with the words COVID-19 antigen test written on it.
More than 84 million rapid tests have been ordered by state governments in the coming weeks.(ABC News: Maren Preuss)

Sims, however, said reports of companies opening multi-test kits to sell the individual tests at marked prices were “appalling behavior” that the ACCC would be “very interested” in pursuing.

He noted that in the midst of a pandemic, such behavior could constitute unscrupulous behavior and result in lawsuits.

Like masks and toilet paper, quick tests are stored

Rapid antigen testing has been hard to find since cases of COVID exploded across the country last month and the kits became part of the official testing regime.

The government has been accused of not having prepared for a predictable increase in demand for rapid tests.

The acting secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Liam O’Brien, has criticized the federal government, saying the ACCC “has been left to clean up Scott Morrison’s mess.”

“The fact that the ACCC has been forced to take action to stop unscrupulous operators tearing off Australians desperate to get their hands on rapid antigen tests is a shocking indictment of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his total failure of management. in rapid antigen testing, “said Mr. said Brien.

“Rapid antigen testing must be free and available to all Australians who need it, just as they are in the UK and US.”

Sims said it was not clear to him whether there were supply problems or whether the shortage corresponded to previous rush during the pandemic, such as for masks and toilet paper.

“When you’re in a pandemic, it’s terribly difficult,” said Mr. Sims.

“I remember in the early days of the pandemic dealing with the toilet paper issue … apparently people were storing it and there is a storage problem at the moment.

“It’s clear that demand exceeds supply, how much is due to freight and logistics, how much is on the demand side due to inventory build-up, I just do not know.”

More than 84 million rapid tests have been ordered by state governments for the coming weeks, which the federal government hopes will meet the requirements.

The government has urged anyone with evidence of what they believe is excessive pricing of rapid tests, to report the company to the ACCC.

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