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Kroger and Walmart increase the price of at-home COVID-19 testing

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(CBS)

At-home coronavirus testing kits are not only getting harder and harder to find, they’re also becoming more expensive.

Kroger and Walmart are raising prices on scarce over-the-counter rapid COVID-19 tests after both companies fulfilled their pledge to make Abbott Laboratories’ kits available to consumers in 100 days, not counting profit during the initial sale.

In 2021, Kroger, Walmart, and Amazon agreed to sell the tests at full price or at a discount of up to 35% for three months to expand testing options to Americans. Without retailer branding, the kits are sold through select retail stores and include two tests that cost the consumer $14.

But the White House announced that deal in mid-December. A spokesperson for Kroger told CBS MoneyWatch that the supermarket chain had fulfilled a commitment to the Biden administration to provide at-home COVID-19 tests with original price, stating that “the pricing scheme has now been phased out and retail prices have been restored”.

Abbott’s Binax Now home COVID-19 test kit, one of the most popular, is available in Kroger stores and pharmacies for $23.99. It was out of stock on Kroger’s website amid soaring demand for rapid or antigenic self-test kits. According to a company spokesperson, Kroger sells Quidel’s QuickVue trials in non-branded stores.

Walmart also makes good on its promise and offers trials for $14 a box before the program’s expiration date and through the holidays before the price hike, a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch. The retail giant’s Binax Now test kits, also sold out online, are for sale on its website for $19.88.

A Walmart spokesperson said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch: “We have noticed significant demand for at-home Covid-19 testing kits and are working closely with our suppliers. me to meet this need and provide the product needed by our customers.” The spokesperson added that customers may have more luck buying the tests at Walmart stores than online, where orders are limited to eight kits per customer.

Other retailers have sold the kits at higher prices, never reaching an agreement with the White House. Despite those costs, many consumers buy the kits amid a record number of COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant.

For example, pharmacy chain CVS Health sold the tests for $23.99 a box and sold out online as well. Customers also arrive empty-handed in the stores.

NowInstock.net, a service that tracks product availability, says that rapid COVID-19 home tests are almost entirely sold out online. In some cases, kits are available for pre-order.

An unlikely source of test kits

One bright spot: Intrivo Diagnostics’ Quick On/Go Self-Test Kit, which works similarly to the BinaxNow product, is available at Walmart.com. It retails for $29.99 for a box of two kits. It’s also available from a less obvious source – healthcare company Ro, better known for addressing men’s healthcare needs like hair loss and erectile dysfunction.

Co-founder and CEO Ro Zachariah Reitano said the test kits were among the company’s three most sought-after products during the holidays.

He told CBS MoneyWatch this week: “Our patients are constantly asking for the test, and we work with the manufacturers of the On/Go test to make it available to them. “They’ve been investing heavily in production capacity even as the boxes have dropped and flowed in the potential case for a more contagious and rapid-spreading variant.”

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https://www.winknews.com/2022/01/05/kroger-and-walmart-hike-the-price-of-covid-19-home-tests/ Kroger and Walmart increase the price of at-home COVID-19 testing

Aila Slisco

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