The Pharmacy Council of Thailand has authorised some local pharmacies to distribute COVID-19 antigen test kits (ATK) free of charge to at-risk individuals.
The council’s president, Assoc Prof Jiraporn Limpananont, said once the ATK kits become available, they will be distributed to Type-1 pharmacies across the country which are registered with the National Health Security Office (NHSO).
Ostland Capital and World Medical Alliance recently won the bid organised by the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation to supply 8.5 million Chinese-made ATK sets from Lepu Medical Technology.
The signing of the contract, however, has yet to proceed following criticism from the Rural Doctors Society about the quality of the ATKs.
A Type-1 pharmacy, she explained, is open for at least eight hours every day and has a full-time pharmacist on its premises.
She said only individuals who are certified as being at risk of getting infected with COVID-19 and are registered with the NHSO can receive ATKs free of charge at participating pharmacies.
Assoc Prof Limpananont said they will be evaluated and briefed by the on-site pharmacist before receiving their ATKs.
After testing, ATK recipients must report their test results to get further recommendations.
According to guidelines, those whose test returns a negative result should isolate for five more days before taking another test.
Meanwhile, those who test positive will be evaluated based on their symptoms.
Assoc Prof Limpananont said the council also is coordinating with the Food and Drug Administration to allow local pharmacies to distribute favipiravir to COVID-19 patients in home isolation.
There are about 10,000 Type-1 pharmacies across the country, and about 1,000 have joined the scheme, she said.
Dr Jadet Thammathat-Aree, secretary-general of the NHSO, said Type-1 drug stores are being brought in as ATK distribution partners because they are scattered across many communities and are staffed by trained professionals.