DOH: Rapid test kits still cannot be sold in drugstores

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — Rapid antibody test kits still cannot be sold in drugstores, not even those approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health clarified.

“I stand corrected, Rapid Antibody Tests CANNOT be bought in pharmacies as it cannot be self-administered. Only facilities with the guidance of a doctor can provide the tests,” Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a text message to CNN Philippines on Saturday.

Vergeire cleared up an earlier statement in an online media briefing when asked about the government’s policy on rapid antibody test kits. The government also prohibits their sale online.

FDA Director Eric Domingo earlier told CNN Philippines that the test kits can be sold only upon the request of a physician. Licensed distributors can be fined or have their licenses revoked if they violate the rule.

The FDA has so far approved 77 rapid test kits for commercial use.

Rapid test kits have been widely used as more industries reopen following the easing of community quarantine measures across the country.

A rapid test detects the presence of antibodies in a person’s body. However, these antibodies may not be produced during the early stages of infection, making it less accurate.

An RT-PCR or real-time polymerase chain reaction test is considered as “the gold standard” for coronavirus testing because it can detect the actual presence of the virus, even when the patient is asymptomatic or not showing any symptoms.

A total of 71 PCR-based test kits are registered with the FDA.