High prices, big demand put brakes on mask sales

High prices, big demand put brakes on mask sales

With distributors hiking prices and the demand for single pieces spiralling out of control, pharmacists in the city feel it would be a better idea not to stock the masks. 

The near-impossible demand has also prompted many pharmacists to put up boards saying they have run out of hand sanitisers and
facemasks. “When the panic buying began, offices and the general public bought them in large quantities. We couldn’t meet the demand as it was very high,” said Raman, a pharmacist in Jayanagar. 

Currently, there is a curb on the material for cheaper masks imported from China, which also contributed to the price hike, the pharmacist

Ravindra Kumar, secretary, Bangalore Chemists’ and Druggists’ Association, said since masks had been brought under the Essential
Commodities Act, pharmacists are able to buy them in bulk but are unable to sell single pieces. 

Also, masks and sanitisers are now sold only on the doctor’s prescription to meet the high demands. “There’s an actual shortage outside.
Previously it was the drug controller who kept a check, now we’ve to keep checking with GST and the weights and measurements section. These agencies apart, the CCB asks for the register. Pharmacists think it’s too much trouble and stopped stocking them,” Kumar said.

Satish, a pharmacist from Rajajinagar, said the high prices quoted by distributors had also made it difficult to maintain stock. “The price quoted by suppliers and distributors is high. When the checking is done, pharmacists are in a bind,” he explained. 

No checks on online sales

N-95 masks are sold online anywhere between Rs 500 and Rs 1,200, while some of the normal three-layer masks are selling for Rs 50 to Rs 100.

“When the checking is done to see if prices are hiked, there has to be a check on online (retailers) as well,” Satish said.


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