A pharmacy in Thiruvananthapuram has stopped selling masks after the Union government set a ceiling price in order for the masks to be made widely affordable. The Central government has brought the masks under the 'Essential Commodities Act'.
Speaking to ANI, a shopkeeper said, "We can not sell masks at prescribed prices as suppliers are not giving us at that rate. However, we are selling sanitisers."
On the other hand, a pharmacy in Hyderabad said it has decided to stop selling masks since wholesalers are selling them at unreasonably high prices. "There is a shortage of masks in the market. We don't have any stocks. There is a lot of demand but we are unable to get them at reasonable prices from the wholesalers. Genuine sanitisers with a certified brand are not available. We urge the government to take this issue seriously," Praveen Kumar, a pharmacist, told ANI.
On March 13, the Union government issued a press release stating that certain masks and sanitizers are not easily available and if available, they are priced very high. The government has listed these items under the Essential Commodities Act till June 30 for now and will revise the decision if required." The decision would empower the Government and States/UTs to regulate the production, quality, distribution etc. of masks (2 ply & 3 ply surgical masks, N95 masks) and hand sanitizers and to smoothen the sale and availability of these items and carry out operations against orders speculators etc. and those involved in overpricing, black marketing, etc. It will enhance the availability of both the items to the general people at reasonable prices or under MRP," the press release read.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has asked Health Secretaries and Chief Secretaries of all States to ensure the availability and distribution of masks, gloves, and sanitisers in view of the situation arising out of coronavirus pandemic. It also urged to resolve the issues in the movement of stock and manpower on priority to ensure uninterrupted production and supply of medicines and medical devices in the country.
(With ANI inputs)