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Kroger, Walmart Hike Prices on COVID At-Home Tests

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Your at-home COVID-19 test could now come with a higher price tag, depending on where you buy it.

Kroger and Walmart stores were selling the test kits at cost or at a discount of up to 35% for 100 days after making a deal with the U.S. federal government, CBS News reported. That ended in mid-December, and now some retailers have raised the prices.

The at-home test kits already had higher prices at other retail chains that did not pledge to sell them at cost.

Walmart kept the lower price of $14 for a box of two tests for longer than agreed to until after the holidays, a company spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch. It is now selling Abbott's Binax Now test kits for $19.88 online.

"We have seen significant demand for at-home COVID-19 testing kits and are working closely with our suppliers to meet this demand and get the needed product to our customers," the Walmart spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, a Kroger spokesperson said that the "pricing program has now phased out and retail pricing has been reinstated” after fulfilling its commitment to the Biden administration.

Kroger is now selling the Binax Now at-home COVID-19 test kit in its stores, pharmacies and online for $23.99. It is currently sold out online. The spokesperson said Kroger also sells Quidel's QuickVue test in its stores that don’t have pharmacies.

Walmart is also selling Intrivo Diagnostics’ On/Go rapid self-test kit and it is in stock at Walmart.com for $29.99 for a box of two kits. The test kits, made by health care company Ro, better known for its hair loss and erectile dysfunction products, were among its top three sellers over the holidays, Ro co-founder and CEO Zachariah Reitano told CBS MoneyWatch.

"Our patients kept asking for tests, and we partnered with the makers of the On/Go test to provide them," Reitano said. "They have been investing tremendously in manufacturing capacity even as cases have ebbed and flowed, in the potential case where there was a far more contagious variant that spread quickly."

Others retailers, like pharmacy chain CVS Health, have been selling the test kits for $23.99 a box all along, according to CBS MoneyWatch. That retailer is also currently sold out on the kits online.

Testing demand is high as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly around the country. The variant now comprises 95% of U.S. cases, according to an estimate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rapid test kits are nearly sold out everywhere online, according to NowInstock.net, which tracks the availability of products. Pre-orders are available for some.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

SOURCE: CBS News

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