Buying an antigen test has gone in a few weeks from being a real obstacle course to becoming a luxury item due to its high cost. Until this Saturday. The Government has decided to put a cap on the prices of these tests, for which up to 12 euros have been paid last Christmas, when they became a true social necessity.
As of January 15 , when the measure comes into force, the tests, which will continue to be sold exclusively in pharmacies, may not cost more than 2.94 euros, which is the price agreed by the Interministerial Commission on Drug Prices, a collegiate body of the Ministry of Health of which other ministries and the autonomous communities are part, after having gone wild these Christmas dates in which their demand has multiplied before the increase in infections.
The measure, announced by the President of the Government, Pedro Sanchez , days ago after the increase registered as a result of the problem of shortages due to the increase in demand for these tests during Christmas, will thus become effective on January 15 after its publication in the Official State Gazette (BOE) and, according to the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias , said yesterday, has as its main objective “to set a price that is as affordable as possible, always taking into account the necessary balance for the product to be available in the pharmaceutical channel”.
As detailed in a press conference, the criteria for setting the maximum price of 2.94 euros have included, among others, the cost it has in other countries. “Sales prices have been considered since July, when the product was put on the market in Spain, to date. We have considered the margin in the commercial framework of pharmacies and this, considering that the product is exempt from VAT, we has given an orientation”, he explained.

below their cost price, the price restriction of these products has been applauded by a large part of the pharmaceutical sector, which sees this measure as necessary although they consider that it is “late” and should have been implemented before Christmas, when its Demand grew due to the large increase in Covid-19 cases due to the arrival of omicron, and thus “many problems” would have been avoided , highlights its president, Manuel Perez , from the College of Pharmacists of Seville, due to an “irregular shortage” that, states, “has had repercussions in an increase in prices that the patient has had to pay”.
At this point, he assures, however, that “the pharmaceutical professionwill assume the price set by the responsibility and by the vocation for health and service that has always guided him and that he has demonstrated in a very convincing way in these two years of pandemic”.
A perception that is generalized in the pharmaceutical sector, which sees regulation of sales prices “a good measure” because it favors universal access to antigen tests at “reasonable prices”, but there are nuances.
At the Farmacia Cansino , in Castilleja de la Cuesta, buy an antigen test at the beginning of December It cost 3.95 euros “Supply was normal and barely 10 or 15 tests were sold per month,” says its owner Julio Cansino.
At the peak of sales, between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and at a time of general shortages due to the boom in demand, they have cost 8.95 euros.Now, with the “normalized” market and until Saturday that this preserve imposed by the Government comes into force, its price has dropped to 5.50 euros
“There came a time when the pharmacist entered into a dichotomy between selling these expensive units to be able to make a profit, because they have cost us up to six euros of cost price, or not buying them and neglecting the citizenry, with the growing social pressure that we had”, he indicates.
For him,, price regulation comes “too late”. “It is a deja vu of what happened with the masks at the beginning of the pandemic. We have been demanding this regulation for a long time and many unnecessary situations would have been avoided,” highlights the apothecary.
On the other hand, Cansino misses “more unity” in the health management of the pandemic by pharmacies. “It is not normal for pharmacies to be communicating positives in some autonomous communities and not in others. People see those headlines in the media and get confused and they come to me here with their positive test so that I can communicate it to Health. No we can have 17 different pharmaceutical models in Spain”, he laments.
Likewise, he claims theregulation of the price of these units from their origin , from the cost price, so that the sector is not harmed by the new prices. “I have come to buy tests for seven euros and I have practically sold them at cost price. Any sector that is told this throws its hands in its head.
And now that the market is being regulated, this is going to take colleagues who have acquired units at a high price and who have to sell them well below their purchase price. It is not worth regulating only the retail price,” reproaches the pharmacist, who assures that the cooperatives, Today, they keep their prices above the maximum sales imposed by the Government. “Either we sell at cost price or we lose money. Pharmacists are not speculators, we are leaving our lives for the citizens. Let no one think that the apothecary is making gold with this”, he defends.

Price intervention, something “natural”

Of another opinion is his colleagues in the profession, Joaquin Venegas , owner of the Pino Montano Pharmacy , who affirms that regular now the price of the antigen tests is a “good measure” that is taken at a “key” moment, in which the offer has already normalized, and that “has allowed these tests to be sold in Spain during Christmas” “
The price intervention was something that was clear, and it was logical and normal, and what is desirable by the sector. That it be done now is appropriate because if it had been done at times of high demand and low supply we would have been completely out of supply because if all of Europe was in demand and here in Spain we would have had an established maximum price, suppliers would not have been interested sell here,” he points out.
In this apothecary, the maximum sales peak occurred on December 22, 23 and 24 , “when during the 12 hours of attention to the public there was no sale nor was anyone asked about anything else,” points out the pharmacist, who reveals to us the total number of tests that he has sold throughout this period, but who assures that they have been around “several hundred”.

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