Labs challenge slashing of RT-PCR test charge

‘New rates will impact on quality of tests’

A group of private diagnostic laboratories in the State on Monday approached the Kerala High Court against the order of the State government reducing the charge for RT-PCR tests from ₹1,700 to ₹500.

In their petition, the laboratory owners said that as per the present norms and quality standards, the average cost for conducting an RT-PCR test came to ₹1,500. The revision of the charges would detrimentally affect the quality of the tests.

They pointed out that cheaper test kits were available in the market but they might not give good results. Bulk of their clientèle were travellers abroad or those intending to undergo surgery in private hospitals.

Therefore, accuracy of the test could not be compromised by using cheaper kits. It was next to impossible to do effective RT-PCR tests at ₹500 unless quality of the reagents used in test and the processes were compromised. The order would force the laboratories to use cheaper kits, leading to generation of inaccurate results and consequent non-detention of the virus.

The petitioners ontended that the government had no power to issue an order fixing the charge at ₹500 and making it mandatory for the labs to collect only the fixed charge. They alleged that the government had passed the order unilaterally and without hearing them.

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