Pune : The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Pune, has cracked the whip on 28 retail medical shops in the district for overcharging buyers for the protective face masks in the time of Covid-19. The Maharashtra government had recently put a cap on mask prices .
FDA assistant commissioner S V Pratapwar told TOI, “The FDA inspected 419 retailers across the district for the maximum retail price (MRP) they were charging for masks. As many as 28 shops were found violating the fixed prices. Action against these shops has been initiated and notices are being sent to them.”
Pratapwar said FDA commissioner Abhimanyu Kale had instructed all officers to implement the price cap order and inspect the retail medical stores. All retailers have also been told to display the price list of masks outside their shops, he said.
A mask manufacturer said, “Before the MRPs were fixed, the medical shops were overcharging consumers by selling masks not only at high prices, but also duplicate masks in some cases. We raided several such establishments and lodged FIRs against them. Now, such medical shops are stuck with the duplicate masks. They can neither sell them at higher price, nor can they give them to the manufacturers as the protective gears are not genuine.”
Top sources from the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) stated that there was a standard practice to fix the MRP of an item — it has to be at least over three times of the ex-factory cost for medical devices to ensure that goods reach the last mile.
Rajiv Nath, forum coordinator, AiMeD, said, “Maharashtra is the only state that has put a cap on the MRP of the face masks. However, the restriction is dissuading distributors from delivering these masks to the state’s remote parts as the manufacturers are left with extremely low margins. Besides, they cannot even cover the transportation costs of the masks to such areas.
Nath added, “The Maharashtra government’s intentions are good, as they seek to protect consumers and give them access to reasonably priced masks of standard and high quality. However, the mask prices that have been fixed need to be rational.”