Sale of COVID-19 Test Kits to Consumers – A Concern

19/08/2021 09:58

The Consumer Council of Fiji (CCoF) is issuing a strong advisory to consumers against purchasing and conducting the Antigen Rapid Detection Test (AgRDT) themselves. This advisory comes after a consumer tip-off led mystery shopping by CCoF revealed that certain pharmacies are directly retailing AgRDT kits to consumers. The investigations also discovered that no proper disclosures are made to consumers on the importance of seeking assistance from trained medical professionals to carry out the test at the point of care.

“COVID-19 tests are designed to be used under the direction of and by qualified medical professionals to ensure that these tests are properly and safely conducted which is in conformity with the relevant guidelines and standards. This is also so that immediate clinical advice and treatment can be provided to the individual, and further information regarding possible limitations of the test, including the risk of false positive and false negative results, can be taken into consideration”, said CCoF Chief Executive Officer Ms Seema Shandil.

Apart from retailing the AgRDT kit, consumer tip-offs and mystery shopping by CCoF has also revealed that certain pharmacies are selling prescribed medications to consumers over the counter without a doctor’s prescription - under the pretence that the medication will be able to treat COVID-19.

“This is a life-threatening virus and by retailing prescribed medication to consumers without a doctor’s prescription or recommendation, consumers lives are being put at risk. Doctors prescribe medication based on their diagnosis and after conducting other due diligence such as checking if their patients have allergies or side-effects to medications. This important step is not carried out when pharmacies dispense prescribed medications without a proper prescription”, said Ms Shandil.

Meanwhile CCoF is also urging Fijian consumers not to hastily spend their hard-earned cash purchasing these kits but to follow advisories and guidelines issued by the MOHMS on COVID 19 testing kits as home tests may provide a false positive or false negative result which could be extremely perilous for yourself and others if relied on.

MHMS is already providing free gold standard molecular testing to the vulnerable and high-risk groups such as the elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions. Fijians who do not fall in these groups and still wishes to get tested should do so by registered doctors and adhere to science backed advice and guidance issued by the MHMS to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Consumers who come across pharmacies retailing such test and selling prescribed medication without a doctor’s prescription are encouraged to contact the Council on toll-free number 155 or lodge a complaint using the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app.