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China import curbs, high demand push up med devices cost in city

Delays in clearing import consignments from China at India’s ports and airports has led to price rise of medical equipment such as digital thermometers and pulse oximeters needed in the fight against COVID-19.

China import curbs, high demand push up med devices cost in city
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Chennai

There has been a high demand for infrared thermometers which help detect body temperature without contact and pulse oximeters which are used to monitor oxygen level in blood. Pulse oximeters which were available for less than Rs 1,500 were now being sold for Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,500 apiece in the city.

With experts highlighting the vulnerability of people with respiratory issues and considering this as one of the symptoms of the infection, people are rushing to buy the device. K Chandrababu, a resident of Lakshmipuram complained that pharmacies have hiked rates of the oximeters citing restrictions on import from China. “Last month, when I enquired about the price at a local pharmacy, he promised to procure it for Rs 2,200, but now he says it will cost Rs 3,450 citing shortage due to import restrictions,” he said.

“Only after the COVID outbreak did we start selling pulse oximeters in our pharmacies. There has been an increase in its price. Distributors say that the rate has gone up due to restrictions on the import consignments from China. Earlier, it was sold for Rs 1,800. Now it is being sold at Rs 3,000 even after discount,” said K Prasad, who runs five pharmacies.

Liakath Hussain who owns a pharmacy in north Chennai said that manufacturers have increased their margins on pulse oximeters which has led to increase in the retail price. “However, the infrared thermometer prices have stabilised after they shot up due to increased demand. The thermometers which were being sold at Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 apiece in April and May were now available at Rs 2,000,” he said.

Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggist Association treasurer S Elangovan said that Chinese make devices were available at cheaper prices but most often they fail. “Now we have good quality products which are manufactured locally.

The price of pulse oximeter is Rs 1,700 apiece,” he said, adding, that with the State government remaining stringent in fixing retail prices, the rates of the medical devices cannot be hiked.

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