A little over a year ago, a news item broke out that left more than one Spaniard with wide-eyed: Germany authorized the sale of antigen tests in supermarkets. Shortly after I would follow France. Meanwhile, in Spain, they still couldn’t be sold even in pharmacies. “The Spanish legislation is not going to allow it,” predicted a pharmacist from Madrid to this newspaper, regarding the sale in large commercial areas. His prediction, for the moment, stands.
Given the exorbitant increase in demand for antigen tests in pharmacies, the President of the Government, Pedro Sanchez, has assured that it plans to regulate the prices of these diagnostic tests. “We will mess with the control of antigen tests”, assured the president in an interview on Cadena SER.
For the moment, Sánchez has not specified how he is going to address this price control, but he has ruled out that the antigen tests will be sold in supermarkets, as is already the case in other European countries that, in turn, have regulated prices by law. For now, the measure is limited to these statements.
What happens in other European countries, where the sale of antigen tests in shops was approved much earlier than in Spain and was extended to large commercial areas? Currently, a simple internet search shows that an antigen test at a Lidl supermarket in Germany cost 2,29 euros. In an Aldi, the price rises slightly up to 2,95.
In addition, the German Government makes available to each citizenThe a free antigen test per person per week, “regardless of the person’s vaccination or convalescence status,” the German government points out on its website.
In France, the price is limited by law up to six euros at most, however, it is easy to find them for two euros in large supermarkets. Recently, French Leclerc centers were selling them to 1,95 euros.
— Olivier Dauvers (@Dauvers70) December 28, 2021
In England, citizens can order test boxes through the central government website to receive them at their own homes. You can request up to seven tests per day and person, although certain requirements must be met: not having Covid symptoms, not being isolated, being over 11 years old and being able to access these tests either at work or at the study center.
In the neighbor Portugal sale is also allowed in commercial surfaces. In a Portuguese Mercadona you can find an antigen test for 2,10 euros unit. In addition, the Central Government has provided a list of almost 1,000 pharmacies and 500 laboratories in which each citizen can take an antigen test every 15 days for free.
However, not all of them have such low prices. In Greece an antigen test is around 10 euros and has no state regulation. In Italy, the prices are not regulated either and are very similar to those in Spain. In countries like Switzerland or Holland, the prices are higher than in our country and are around eight and 10 euros, respectively.
The mask experience
“I think that politics-circus is being done with this,” says Luis de Palacio, president of the Business Federation of Spanish Pharmacists (FEFE), who is against the regularization of prices. “The tests are already going down in price. They will surely drop below five euros soon “.
“They are showing us a rag not to talk about other things. I think we are paying more for electricity than for tests, to tell you something “, considers the director of the pharmaceutical association. FEFE was present in the negotiation when the price of masks was regulated by law, but a possible limitation of the price of antigen tests, for the moment, has not arrived at your table.
The experience of the masks was precisely what positioned them against regulating the price of the tests. “It limited the price of surgical ones and of a specific type of gels. At the time it was published there were stockouts. What happened was that, with the limited price, eI know shortages took longer to resolve, until distribution and import prices failed to pass below the imposed ceiling. “
From record to record
The sale of antigen tests continues its gradual escalation, breaking records week after week. The previous one, from December 17 to January 2, more than 8.5 million antigen tests in pharmacies, according to figures from IQVIA, one of the largest operators of health-related data. This represents a new record since its sale in pharmacies was approved on July 20.
In total, in 2021, they were sold in Spain 29.9 million tests of antigens in Spanish pharmacies. The communities where there was more demand were Catalonia and Madrid, followed -with a certain distance- by Andalusia.
This Monday, when Sánchez’s statements were made, the members of the Official College of Pharmacists of Madrid have written to its president so that “the appropriate steps are taken so that, in the event that the rule that would support said intervention, take into account the stocks of this medical device that we know exist in many pharmacy offices, in order to avoid the losses that could occur in the case of not having a sufficient moratorium “.
“Take into account – the letter continues – that the tensions in prices that have been occurring in recent weeks have caused acquisition costs to have risen significantly, so that the setting of an intervened price could generate considerable losses to the establishments “.