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CMA launches formal investigation into COVID-19 PCR test firm

The UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a formal investigation into private firm Expert Medicals, following complaints relating to its provision of COVID-19 PCR tests in the UK.

In August, UK Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid asked the CMA to conduct a rapid, high-level review of the market for PCR travel tests.

In an open letter to Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, Javid acknowledged the cost of PCR testing can be prohibitively expensive – in particular for families who want to travel together.

The CMA has launched an investigation into Expert Medicals following complaints accusing the company of failing to provide tests and results in a timely manner or at all, as well as failing to respond to customer complaints and refusing to issue refunds.

According to the CMA, Expert Medicals has been the subject of a ‘high number of complaints’ in the UK – to the point where the company no longer appears on the list of PCR test providers who self-declare that they meet the government’s minimum standards for COVID-19 testing.

In addition to the formal investigation launch, the CMA has written to a further 19 test providers with a warning to improve their pricing information or ‘risk action in the future’.

“Millions of people have to buy PCR tests in order to travel. If we find that firms have been misleading customers and failing to provide the service that people have paid for, we stand ready to take action,” said Coscelli.

“Our actions today are the next steps in our work to ensure the PCR testing market works for consumers and we are preparing to take further action in this sector,” he added.