Rapid antigen tests: Health Ministry denies RATs being seized from pharmacies

The federal government has denied the RATs are being diverted after several pharmacies claimed their orders were “seized”.

The Federal Government has denied claims by retailers across Australia that their orders for rapid antigen tests were being ‘seized’ as the national shortage continues.

“No warrant has been issued by the government to divert RAT supplies,” the Department of Health told news.com.au on Friday.

“The Department of Health is in regular contact with state and territory governments and is not aware of any other government seeking to commandeer the RAT.

“The Department of Health has procured RAT supplies in accordance with Commonwealth Procurement Rules (December 2020), which reflect the Australian Government’s commitment to sustainable procurement practices.

“It does this through negotiations with suppliers through normal business channels, and does not seek to place itself in front of other business and retail entities.”

The department then referred to a statement from Hi Craft Safety, a company that had claimed its stock of RATs would not arrive due to government intervention before clarifying that was not the case.

“Following our recent communications regarding our inability to fulfill your order of rapid antigen tests in a timely manner, we have received additional clarification from our suppliers: – The inability to supply was related to our suppliers overselling the product available to them and was not the result of any government intervention,” the statement said.

The Health Ministry’s denial follows claims by several pharmacies and other businesses blaming the government for the RAT’s delays.

A pharmacy owner, who wished to be called Amanda, said she was told by her RAT wholesaler and retailer, Adelaide Direct Stationers, that her order had been intercepted by the government for “public health reasons”.

“As we use PPE – so we wear masks and shields – with the use of rapid antigen test kits, we could quickly find out whether a member of staff has Covid or not. And if they do, they could go and self-quarantine,” she said. says SBS.

“I was horrified that as a disability [support] supplier, I was trying to be organized and responsible, but the government could take away my ability to serve my customers. »

Adelaide Direct Stationers responded on its website in a lengthy statement addressing the shortage.

“Dear customer, since the end of the first rounds of supply for Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), we have been taking pre-orders, anticipating additional supply in the new year,” the statement read.

“Our supplier has since informed us that our scheduled delivery will no longer be delivered to us due to government action to seize the supply of RAT at the point of import for public health reasons.”

Queensland Labor also reported that 20,000 rapid antigen test kits ordered by Queensland Rail and en route to Queensland were ‘taken away by Scott Morrison’s government instead’.

In Sydney, Catherine Bronger, owner of the 24-hour Chemistworks in Sydney’s Wetherill Park, told a similar story in her pharmacy.

“We had a lot of orders with different companies before Christmas, [which] were due to arrive this week and towards the end of last week,” she said.

“And certainly when I spoke to different representatives individually to ask them what had happened, they understood that their supply had been taken at the point of import. [by] the government.”

However, a Department of Health statement acquired by news.com.au denied that any warrants had been put in place to divert supplies of rapid antigen tests.

In a separate statement released this afternoon, the Department of Health said ‘widespread reports’ that RAT supplies were being redirected ‘to the Commonwealth Department of Health’ were ‘untrue’.

“The Department of Health reaffirms that it has not commandeered all RAT supplies within and entering Australia,” it said.

“The department made purchases in accordance with Commonwealth procurement rules and did not seek to place itself ahead of other commercial and retail entities.

“Although we are aware that there are supply constraints in the market, supply should normalize over the next few weeks.

“The government has secured over 80 million RATs for delivery in January and February. State and territory governments also report that they have placed orders for approximately 130 million RATs.

– with Samantha Maiden