An investigation against various private pathology laboratories and other providers of Covid-19 testing services has been launched into whether the prices of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the coronavirus are competitive.
The Namibian Competition Commission says the investigation pertains to the alleged excessive pricing of Covid-19 tests, including rapid
antigen testing. In a statement on Friday, the commission said it has received concerns from the public, which suggest that the prices charged for the testing of Covid-19 at private facilities in Namibia since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic are exorbitant. Concerns are also that this may not fairly reflect the reasonable costs incurred in the procurement and administration of such tests. “The commission is of the view that unfair and unreasonably high prices for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and rapid antigen testing for Covid-19 may have adverse effects on the Namibian public,” it said in a statement.
It is further alleged that the uniformity in the pricing of Covid-19 testing at private facilities in Namibia suggests the possibility of the existence of agreements and or concerted practices between parties in horizontal and or vertical relationships, to fix prices and or any other trading conditions. In the alternative, this uniformity further raises suspicion of there being regulatory facilitation of collusion among competitors in the procurement, supply, and administration of Covid-19 testing.
According to a June 2021 Covid-19 testing facilities information chart, PathCare Namibia charges N$850 for a PCR test and N$500 for rapid swabbing, while Namibia Institute of Pathology charges an amount of N$680 for PCR.
Diagnolab charges between N$800 to N$1 400 for a PCR swabbing and N$400 for rapid testing, while the Namdeb laboratory charges N$950 for a PCR test. Another centre called OSH-Med is charging N$995 for a PCR test, while at Rennies Travel, one has to pay between N$ 900 and N$2 000 for a PCR test and N$500 and N$850 for a rapid test.
Equally, Blueberry Travel charges N$1 100 for a PCR test, while the Wanderers Sports Club asks N$790 and N$700 for pensioners only.
FlyNamibia charges an amount of N$950 for a PCR test. The CovidTest Nam is charging between N$900 and N$1700 for PCR, and N$550 for a rapid test, whereas Namib Test is charging N$950 for a PCR. The Enkehaus Private Hospital is charging between N$1 100 and N$2 000 for a PCR test. The statement said upon initiation of the investigation, the commission has afforded concerned parties an opportunity to respond to the allegations within 30 days.