Overcharging can't be the norm amid a pandemic

Published: May 30, 2020, 04:30 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

The regulatory mechanism now must step in for a price correction

This picture has been used for representation purpose
This picture has been used for representation purpose

A homoeopathic medicine that costs approximately R20 is being sold at six and seven times the rate across the city.

This drug, which is recommended as a prophylactic for COVID-19 by the Ministry of AYUSH, is in high demand. A report in this paper showed stores across selling it at much higher prices than earlier. They claimed that manufacturers were overpricing the drug. Some stores pointed to other chemist outlets saying that at least their price was lesser than the other.

Yet others explained that even at these high prices they were making a profit of only R20 a bottle.

The regulatory mechanism now must step in for a price correction. The point is not the rate of the overcharge, the point is that there is an overcharge which should not have been there in the first place.

Just as the very first phase of lockdown began in the city, this edit had warned against overpricing of certain commodities, telling the authorities to rapidly check hoarding and spiralling prices, as the desperate public rushed to stock up.

There has to be non-negotiable action on those who overcharged because of huge demand for certain products, whatever they may have been.

In the same way, we must see this chain of overpricing snapped. If the problem begins with the manufacturers, then swoop down on them. If there is a fault further down the chain, then that has to be addressed.

Let no manufacturer or stockist believe they can get away with taking advantage of people who are vulnerable in these times. Get to the root of the problem and tackle it with determination. This is also important so that overcharging does not become a pattern, with those charging more using the pandemic to prey on people, who may be left with a take it or leave it scenario.

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