Spain to set maximum price for antigen self-tests

by Lorraine Williamson
antigen self test price cap

MADRID – Prime Minister Sánchez announced that the government is preparing to approve a regulation to limit the maximum selling price of the antigen self-tests. Months ago, the government did the same with mouth masks. 

Sánchez admitted today that there is a problem with the price of the antigen tests for the detection of covid, which are among the most expensive in Europe. These tests have been sold in Spanish pharmacies since July.  

In an interview with the Spanish radio station Ser, the Spanish Prime Minister stated that the supply problems the country faced during the Christmas holidays have been solved. At the time, there were permanent queues in front of pharmacies, supplies were not always available and the prices of tests were rising. ‘The debate until today was about supply. Now we are dealing with price regulation for antigen tests. Last year we already abolished VAT on these products. Now we will do something to regulate the price,’ Sánchez said. He stressed that the sale of self-tests will not be liberalised, which would allow them to be distributed in hypermarkets, for example. They will only be available in pharmacies, as they are now. 

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Spain is rather late 

Compared to other European countries, the Spanish government is late with this regulation. Several European countries have already established price ceilings for self-tests. In France, for example, the maximum price is €6. A maximum price should prevent speculation by manufacturers and suppliers. This was the case, for example, around Christmas when prices for self-tests rose to €6, €8, and even €10. Therefore, this must be prevented. In Spain, prices are currently left completely free, which means that the whims of supply and demand and the criteria of the suppliers are decisive. 

Sufficient stock 

Industry sources have confirmed that pharmacies are again stocking up on tests, that demand has calmed down and that prices are falling – to between €5 and €8 on average, depending on the type of test. In the near future, prices could remain stable between €5 and €6. 

Government funding 

This is still much higher than in other European countries. The same products cost around €2 in countries like Germany and Portugal. However, apart from the price ceilings, there are at least two other issues at play there. Firstly, the fact that the self-tests can be sold in hypermarkets in order to keep prices down. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the tests in these countries are funded by the state. In Germany, every citizen is entitled to at least one free test a week; and in Portugal, the government also pays for a self-test every fortnight. In the UK, they are sent free if you ask for them on the government website, and in France they are also free, but only for those who have been vaccinated. 

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