New Delhi : Amid huge demand for medicines, PPE kits, oxygen cylinders and oximeters in the onslaught of the pandemic, medical stores are selling these aforementioned items at exorbitant rates. The shop owners, in turn, blamed people for hoarding that led to unavailability of medicines and devices in the market.
The cost of best quality oximeter ranges between ₹1,500 and ₹2,500 but due to shortage, it is sold between ₹3,000 and 4,500. A digital thermometer is sold at twice or thrice the MRP.
Deepu Kumar, a medical shop owner in East Delhi, said there is huge demand for anti-viral drugs as most infected persons are in home quarantine.
“People are buying multi-vitamin and anti-viral drugs in bulk after going through unverified information being circulated on the social media. They are also buying oximeter without doctor’s recommendation. Due to these reasons, medical stores are getting limited supply of drugs,” said Mr. Kumar.
A long queue of customers was seen outside a medical store in Vaishali Sector 4 of Ghaziabad. People said they don’t want to take last moment risk and want to stock medicines, oximeter, thermometer, PPE kits and hand gloves. In an emergency situation, a resident of Indirapuram even brought an oxygen cylinder for ₹20,000 from black market.
Safe than sorry
“Rumours circulating on the social media have pushed people into panic buying. Even if there is no requirement of medicines and other medical devices, people are hoarding it for emergency situation. Those who actually require it are running from pillar to post to get a single vial of Remdesivir or other medicines used in COVID-19 treatment,” said Joy Saha, a resident of Vaishali.
A medical shop owner in Central Delhi said that after the government started monitoring the sale of Remdesivir, people involved in black marketing started hoarding it. In some cases, a few have bought the injection at ₹1 lakh per vial.
“Oximeters were in the market but there was huge demand and all of them were sold out. The unavailability is just because of gap in demand and supply. The situation will improve when fresh stock arrives in a few days. But I request people not to by duplicate oximeter as it will show inaccurate reading,” said Sonal Singh, a medical shop owner in Vaishali.
In the last four days, police have arrested around ten people and recovered more than 120 vials of Remdesivir injection from their possession.
The accused used to pose as distributors and relatives of patients to buy injections from medical stores.