The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has said it will “name and shame” retailers and suppliers jacking up the price of rapid antigen tests, as the Omicron pandemic continues to spread.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said the watchdog had already received over 100 customer contacts in relation to the pricing of rapid antigen tests, which are sold across several facets of retail and are currently in short supply – a factor Sims hopes won’t lead unscrupulous actors to use the RATs to make a profit.
“We won’t be shy to name and shame suppliers and retailers we consider to be doing the wrong thing,” Sims said.
“We are seeking information from suppliers, [retailers and pharmacies,] about their costs and current pricing of rapid antigen tests [and] reminding them that they need to be able to substantiate any claims they make to consumers about the reason for higher prices.”
According to the ACCC, excessive pricing of essential goods and services can be considered unconscionable.
The ACCC’s commitment comes just a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to subsidise the tests nationwide because the government “can’t just make everything free” and it had already “invested hundreds of billions of dollars getting Australia through this crisis”.
Rapid antigen tests are being made free in testing clinics, which already have queues of up to 15 hours.
Morrison said he didn’t want to use free goods to undercut private players, such as pharmacies and supermarkets, from selling their products, but Professional Pharmacists Australia today called for the PM to reverse his decision.
“We represent the vast majority of pharmacists in Australia, and we’re calling on the Federal Government to act urgently and provide the tests free to all given the surge in cases and the change in testing regimes,” said PPA chief executive Jill McCabe.
“We should be protecting the health and safety of all workers and their families, not just those who can afford to buy the tests… Most Australians find the cost of testing their family prohibitive – if they’re able to find testing kits at all.
“They’re] paying up to $20 [for each test] – that’s $100 for a family of five for just one test each time.”
McCabe also slammed the government for its recent shift in support for Australians in their quest to ‘live with the virus’.
“It’s one thing for the Government to shift to managing, and living with, the virus, but it’s another thing to completely obfuscate responsibility for protecting the health and safety of Australians,” McCabe said.