Bengaluru: Officials with the Karnataka Drugs Controller, Health and family Welfare and Food and Civil Supplies conducted raids on several medical shops in Bengaluru and found that they were allegedly charging exorbitant rates for face masks.
Health Department officials said that raids were conducted at five different medical stores in the city based on complaints lodged by residents with the 104 helpline. The officials conducted surprise checks by initially posing as residents wanting to purchase face masks. When the shop managers revealed the price for the masks, a team of officials entered the stores and seized several items as evidence.
The raids were conducted in Maruti Medicals in Vijaynagar, Jayan Healthcare Pharma in Kasturi Nagar, Apollo Pharmacy, Sanjeevani Trinetra Medical Store and Ram Medical General Stores in Rajarajeshwari Nagar.
According to health department officials, Maruti Medicals was selling N95 masks for Rs 230 when the MRP is Rs 140. The department officials said that the medical shop owners had placed false stickers of hiked prices on the masks.
Officials also found that Jayan Healthcare Pharma in Kasturi Nagar was allegedly selling masks for Rs 20 when it is priced at Rs 12 and the N-95 masks were being sold at Rs 595. “We posed as customers initially and asked them what the price is. When they told us the prices, we entered the store and began the raids,” the health department officials said.
In Rajarajeshwari Nagar, the officials who raided the medical stores said that Apollo Pharmacy was selling 3M masks for Rs 275; Sanjeevani Trinetra Medical Store was allegedly selling N95 masks for Rs 300 and 3Ply masks for Rs 30; and Ram Medical and General Stores was allegedly selling masks worth Rs 20 for Rs 75 and N95 masks for Rs 350.
“We have collected purchase and sale invoices and bills as evidence that the medical shops were selling the masks for higher rates. Notices have been issued to all five pharmacies demanding an explanation for the hike in prices and for violating the norms of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940,” the health department said in a press release. Officials also said that further action will be taken based on the responses. They also urged people to lodge complaints with the 104 helpline in case they were charged more money for face masks.