Markey calls on retailers, manufacturers to make at-home COVID tests more affordable, encourages FTC efforts to stop price gouging and protect consumers
Washington (January 19, 2022) – As the Omicron variant continues to spread and demand for at-home COVID-19 tests increases, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today sent letters – to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), COVID-19 test manufacturers, and retailers – to ensure that Americans have access to affordable and trustworthy at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests. Senator Markey sent letters to eleven manufacturers and nine retailers of at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests, urging the companies to make at-home test prices more reasonable for consumers in the midst of the public health emergency.
In his letter to the manufacturers, Senator Markey calls on the companies to lower their prices for at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests, citing reports that show at-home tests can cost as little as $2 each to manufacture but sell for $12 or more.
In his letter to retailers, Senator Markey notes his concerns that the cost of rapid at-home tests sold by retailers appears to be significantly and unreasonably marked up from the wholesale cost of purchasing these tests from manufacturers and wholesalers, and he calls on retailers to sell at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests at cost through the duration of the public health emergency.
“The cost of at-home testing kits can pose a significant barrier to access,” wrote Senator Markey in his letter to at-home COVID-19 test retailers. “As we face an unprecedented wave of COVID cases, manufacturers and retailers must do more to ensure consumers see reasonable prices for these tests.”
Senator Markey sent letters to the following manufacturers: Abbott, Access Bio, ACON Laboratories, Becton, Dickinson & Company, Celltrion USA, Ellume Health, iHealth Labs, InBios International, OraSure Technologies, and Quidel.
Senator Markey sent letters to the following retailers: Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, CVS Health, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Sam’s Club, Target, and Costco.
In his letters to the manufacturers, Senator Markey requested responses to questions that include:
In his letters to the retailers, Senator Markey requested responses to questions that include:
Senator Markey, along with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), also sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting the agency investigate and put a stop to price gouging and sales scams related to at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests. Media reports reveal that scammers are using the pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage of consumers through predatory and profiteering behavior, including selling fraudulent tests or charging exorbitant prices for tests that have limited availability. As the Biden administration ramps up its efforts to increase production and availability of at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests for Americans, Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal are urging the FTC to take all necessary steps to stop deceptive price-gouging and sales practices.
“I can think of nothing more unfair, deceptive, and harmful than the exploitation of public health concerns for profit during a global emergency,” wrote Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal in their letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “I am encouraged to see FTC’s recent consumer notice on avoiding counterfeit tests, but as media reports continue to arise about price gouging and scams related to at-home test kits, I strongly urge the FTC to investigate the situation and act as necessary without delay. No one should be allowed to reap a windfall from fear and human suffering.”
A copy of the letter to the FTC can be found HERE.