Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, has sent letters to CEOs of at-home COVID-19 test-makers, asking why tests are selling for as much as $12 apiece.
In a letter sent today to Abbott CEO Robert Ford, for example, Markey cited a Reuters story from October 2021 in which British test-maker Mologic said that rapid antigen tests can cost as little as $2 apiece to manufacture. “Yet, U.S. consumers face costs of $12 or more for each at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen test. As we face an unprecedented wave of COVID cases, manufacturers and retailers must do more to ensure consumers see reasonable prices for at-home tests.”
Markey made similar points to top leadership at BD, Access Bio, Quidel, Acon Laboratories, Celltrion USA, Ellume Health, iHealth Labs, InBios International and OraSure Technologies.
The letters could carry some weight because Markey is not only in the majority party in the Senate but also represents a state that is one of the top three medtech hubs in the United States. Markey also sent letters to retailers and joined Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connection, to call on Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to take action against price gouging and scams related to at-home COVID-19 test kits.
The Biden administration has been taking its own actions to help alleviate the cost of at-home COVID tests during the omicron surge, including requiring health insurers to cover eight over-the-counter at-home tests per month and setting up a website where every home in the U.S. can order four free tests.
In a phrase repeated in many of the letters to medtech CEOs, Markey said: “While the federal government works to distribute free rapid tests, and has recently required insurers to reimburse individuals for the cost of rapid tests they purchase, many must still pay these costs out-of-pocket. For the millions of Americans concerned about their health, trying to protect friends and family from infection, or in need of a negative test for work, travel, or child care, these prices are simply too high.”