Can supplly 45 of 115 materials required by pvt labs for RT-PCR tests, Kerala HC told

KMSC told the court that of the 115 items requested, it only has contracts for 45 items

Kochi: Kerala government-run Medical Services Corporation (KMSC) on Tuesday told the High Court here that it can only supply 45 out of the 115 items requested by private labs so that they can conduct RT-PCR tests at the price of Rs 500 fixed by the state.

KMSC told the court that of the 115 items requested, it only has contracts for 45 items.

It also told Justice T R Ravi that some of the labs have installed different proprietary machines and each of them require different reagents for which manufacturers are also varying and therefore, it would be difficult to procure them in the small quantities required by the individual labs.

The corporation said that procuring such items in smaller quantities would defeat the purpose behind setting up of KMSC -- to procure things in bulk so that it is cost effective.

Responding to the stand of KMSC, the labs contended that it indicated that the corporation's earlier report arriving at a price of Rs 448.20 per test was an exercise which was carried out without any application of mind.

The labs further contended that the corporation, it appears, did not even ascertain what kind of reagents or proprietary machines they were using before arriving at that figure based on which the state government slashed the prices of RT-PCR tests from Rs 1,700 to Rs 500.

After hearing both sides, the court listed the matter for hearing on Friday by when KMSC has to place before it the list of items that it can supply out of the test materials sought by the labs.

The state government had earlier told the court that it has in principle agreed to the proposition that KMSC can supply the materials as requested by private labs, as a temporary measure, particularly in light of the situation created by the pandemic.

The submission was madein response to several pleas by several private labs challenging an April 30 order of the state government, slashing the rates for RT-PCR tests from Rs 1,700to Rs 500.

The state government had on July 8 informed the court that it had arrived at the figure of Rs 500 as the rates arrived at by KMSC for RT-PCR tests through static and mobile labs was Rs 448.20 per test.

It had also submitted that the cost of the kits and consumables for the purpose of carrying out the RT-PCR test had come down and that for similar tests the rates charged in states like Haryana, Telangana, Uttarakhand, and Odisha were comparable with the price fixed by Kerala government.

The private labs, however, had contended that rates arrived at by KMSC were not justified as it makes purchases for the state in bulk and therefore, can get the materials at a much lesser price than the institutions who do not procure the same in such large volumes.

Earlier, a single judge bench had declined to stay the April 30 order, against which the private labs had appealed before a division bench which dismissed the same,but left open the legal and factual contentions to be raised before the single judge.

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