The disposable surgical face masks are being sold at Rs 10 per piece, with a single pack of 100 masks being priced as high as Rs 1,000 while the actual cost of the pack is about Rs 500 or lower. Private pharmacies are selling surgical masks without MRP and putting their own prices.
Similarly, the sanitisers promising 100 per cent protection against COVID-19 are being priced as high as Rs 500 for about 250 ml. The gel sanitisers are priced even higher at about Rs 700.
As the oxygen demand is one of the challenges being faced in the second wave of COVID-19, the demand for oximeters has gone up as people want to ensure that oxygen levels are being checked regularly. The pharmacies are charging Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,500 on single oximeters, while its actual cost stands at Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200.
Though these are considered medical devices, there is no fixed pricing for them by the Pharmaceutical Council of India, making it easier for private pharmacies to charge beyond MRP.
Oximeters, masks and sanitisers have become regular must-use items for the public for the past one year. With no widespread use earlier their prices were never a matter of discussion. Categorised as medical devices only recently, their regularisation is being processed only now.
Meanwhile, the State Drug Control Authorities said action is not possible if people buy medical devices that do not have MRP on them.
“The public should buy only those products that have MRP mentioned on the label and should not pay more than that,” said Dr K Sivabalan, State Drug Controller.