Sanitiser, mask prices surge

The Namibia Competition Commission has warned pharmacies against unjustified price increases during the coronavirus outbreak.

26 March 2020 | Health

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK



The Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC) has warned retailers selling hand sanitisers, immune boosters and face masks that it will impose penalties for unjustified price increases amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Fines for excessive pricing and collusive behaviour could be as much as 10% of the retailer's earnings, it warned.



Clean hands

A study undertaken by the commission established that there have been significant price increases on surgical masks, hand sanitisers and immune boosters.

The prices of immune boosters range from N$104 to N$200 at different pharmacies, it found. A 100-millilitre container of hand sanitiser used to cost around N$20 before the first coronavirus cases were reported in Namibia.

“However, that price has since increased to a minimum of N$44 at most pharmacies, subject to the brand and demand at this point in time.In some instances, sanitisers of a similar size are retailing for as much as N$75.”



Masks

The commission discovered that before the coronavirus outbreak, three-ply surgical masks cost around N$10 each and N95 respirators sold for N$100.

“Today, however, retailers are selling the masks at N$75 (three-ply) and N$230 (N95).”

Taking action

The commission said it was in contact with the ministry of trade and would be working with them closely to protect consumers against continued price exploitation.

“The commission is further in discussion with the government to ensure that competition law enforcement does not impede necessary cooperation between businesses to deal with the current crisis and ensure security of supplies of essential products and services to the citizenry.”

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