Pharmacies are unable to confirm criteria for access to free trials

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Pharmacies are still unable to validate the information related to the eligibility criteria for users to be able to take the free tests promised by the Government.

Contrary to what happened at the beginning of the week, billing for tests with co-payment is already possible.

However, continues to there is no way to confirm whether the users meet the criteria required by the Government to access the tests without paying.

“All this remains very risky because the person signs the commitment of honor saying that they are within the defined criteria, but we have no way of verifying if this is true and if the person is in fact eligible”, explains to Expresso, a responsible for a pharmacy in the district of Évora.

Currently, pharmacists cannot know if the user is already vaccinated or not – and if he is, he does not have access to the free trial -, if he has already been infected with the virus or not – if he has been in the last 180 days he cannot do the free trial – or if you have already taken more than the four monthly tests allowed by law.

A lack of a control system centralized by pharmacies means that a citizen who has already been vaccinated, for example, can take an unlimited number of free tests per month at various pharmacies across the country.

This situation can create logistical constraints, since in Portugal, very few pharmacies carry out this type of tests – and those that do, always have several appointments.

As the Expresso underlines, the Government is responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of the computer system and pharmacies fear that they will have problems due to the fact that this system is not yet operational.

Questioned by the newspaper, the Ministry of Health ensures that the Shared Services of the Ministry of Health have already completed “the development of a solution technology” and that the process now depends on pharmacies, which still have “the adaptation” of “their dispensing software” in progress.

However, pharmacies guarantee that they have not yet been given the technical conditions to carry out this adaptation.

To Expresso, the Ministry also did not answer whether or not it will pay pharmacies for any tests unduly reimbursed due to the lack of a validation system.

This is one of the reasons why many pharmacies do not want to join the testing program.

Until Wednesday, according to the drug authority, 25 pharmacies had already asked to leave this same list.

This is about a exceptional and temporary regime for the reimbursement of rapid antigen tests for professional use, which is only reimbursed at 100% in a maximum amount of 10 euros, subject to compliance with certain conditions.

For the user, this benefit is limited to four tests a month and the person concerned must be over 12 years of age, have not completed the covid-19 vaccination and must not have been infected within the last 180 days.

On the pharmacy side, all those who decide to join this service must ask Infarmed to be registered and included in the list. By making these tests available, pharmacies undertake not to charge the State more than 10 euros for each one they carry out.

However, if a user performs a fifth test in the month, it will already be sold at the normal price charged by the pharmacy, regardless of whether it is on the list or not.

Currently, to dine inside a restaurant from 7pm from Friday to the end of Sunday, or to stay overnight in a local accommodation/hotel, it is required to present a report with the negative result of a rapid antigen test if the person is still do not have the Covid European Union Digital Certificate.

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