COVID-19 impact: Medicine that costs Rs 20 is being sold for Rs 150 by chemists

Updated: May 29, 2020, 07:52 IST | Faizan Khan, Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

With demand for Ministry of AYUSH recommended drug Arsenicum Album 30 increasing, city chemists making huge profits off it, say it is the manufacturers who have been charging more

People at New India Homeopathic waiting to purchase the medicine
People at New India Homeopathic waiting to purchase the medicine

After facemasks and hand sanitizers, now there is a mad rush across the city for the homoeopathy drug Arsenicum Album 30 as the Ministry of AYUSH has recommended it as a prophylactic for COVID-19. Taking advantage of the sudden surge in demand, several chemists have started selling it for a much higher price than the medicine's actual market value. mid-day visited a number of stores, where the shopkeepers claimed that the manufacturers were charging them more and hence, the higher prices.

The market price of a small bottle containing 100 globules (I dram) of the medicine is Rs 20, but chemists were found to be selling them for prices between Rs 70 to Rs 150.

India Medico, a store in Taloja, was found selling each bottle for Rs 150. The shopkeeper said that he had purchased the medicine from homoeopathic doctors for Rs 120 to Rs 130 per bottle. The chemist further said, "I know it's wrong but we have been getting it at a higher price from manufacturers. At least I am selling it for Rs 150; there are some chemists who are charging Rs 200 to Rs 500 for a bottle. I am just earning a Rs 20 profit per bottle."

Chandrakanta Chemist, Kurla; Arsenicum Album 30
Chandrakanta Chemist, Kurla; Arsenicum Album 30

mid-day visited a medical store in Kurla — Chandrakala — where 50 globules were being sold for Rs 70. The owner said, "This is the price for which we are selling the medicine. Yes it used to cost Rs 20. You can go to other medical stores selling the medicine at the earlier price. We have purchased a bottle of 50 globules for Rs 50 from manufacturers and are just keeping a profit margin of Rs 20."

Banaji Homeopathic Pharmacy store in Andheri West was found selling 30 ml of the medicine for Rs 150, which earlier used to cost Rs 70.

mid-day also visited New India Homeopathic pharmacy in Chembur East, where the pharmacist and consulting doctors were selling the medicines at the actual rate and customers were seen waiting outside the store in a queue.

Dr. Prakash Jose, consulting homeopath at the store said, "We have been hearing about some of the medicine stores selling the drug at a higher price, but people must know that 1 dram carries 100 globules which cost Rs 20 to Rs 25 and 30 ml of the liquid costs Rs 60 to Rs 70. One must ask before purchasing the same if anybody charges extra. On an average we get 80 customers daily and till now we haven't charged a single rupee extra. We have been selling the medicine at the same price for years."

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Speaking to mid-day, FDA commissioner Arun Unhale said, "We have already started inspections at medicine stores selling Arsenicum Album 30. We will take action if anybody is found selling the drug at higher prices. Earlier, only regular homoeopath customers use to purchase these medicines but as the Ministry of AYUSH has recommended it for COVID-19, the demand is high. We are keeping a close watch. Till now no decision on capping the price has been taken."

Ministry of AYUSH recommendation

Ministry of AYUSH has recommended Arsenicum Album 30 as a prophylactic medicine against the Coronavirus infection. It says that one dose of the medicine should be taken on empty stomach for three days daily. The dose should be repeated after a month if the infection is still there.

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