Three pharmacies in Cebu City asked to explain for selling overpriced face masks

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio February 06,2020 - 04:12 PM

Three pharmacies in downtown Cebu City have been sent notices to explain from the Department of Trade and Industry for selling overpriced masks. | Photo courtesy of Cebu City PIO

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Three commercial pharmacies in downtown Cebu City are being investigated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) after they have been found with overpriced N95 and surgical face masks.

The City Market Authority, DTI, Department of Health, and the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) conducted a surprise inspection among 10 pharmacies in the city including five stalls of sidewalk vendors on Thursday, February 6, 2020.

According to Jonil Matuguina, the head of the Market Authority, three of the pharmacies sold the masks 30 percent higher than the DTI price, which is P8 per surgical mask and P50 to P110 per N95 mask.

He did not reveal the particular pharmacies pending investigation.

Read more: DTI Cebu reiterates warning vs overprice sale of disposable face masks

The pharmacies were given a notice to explain by the DTI, the first step in the investigation. They may be facing charges for violating the Consumer’s Act for overpricing.

The DTI has already issued a price freeze for the face mask following the panic buying of the public with the announcement of the first cases of 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCov ARD) in the country.

Read more: Cebu City to close establishments selling overpriced face masks, PPEs

Mayor Edgardo Labella has ordered the crackdown of pharmacies “taking advantage” of the 2019-nCov scare by increasing their prices of face masks.

Matuguina said the results of their assessment showed that the majority of the pharmacies followed the DTI price regulation.

He also said there was no shortage of face masks as most of the pharmacies were stocked, except for four establishments awaiting delivery for restocking.

“Atong giawhag ang mga pharmacies nga sundon lang ang mando sa DTI ug dili pahimuslan ang sitwasyon. (We are encouraging the pharmacies to follow the mandate of the DTI and not take advantage of the situation),” he said.

Read more: ‘Cloth face masks useless vs. 2019 novel coronavirus’

Aside from the three pharmacies, at least five stalls near a mall along N. Bacalso Highway were found to be selling overpriced paper masks at price of P15 to P20 a piece.

Matuguina said that the price of paper face masks were supposed to be only from P1 to P5 a piece.

She also reminded the public that the Department of Health had earlier warned that the paper face masks would not be effective in protecting the wearer from the threat of the 2019-nCoV.

The masks were confiscated while the vendors were warned that if they would attempt to sell overpriced masks again, they would face criminal charges.

Matuguina said the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) would help monitor the stalls selling overpriced paper face masks.

The stalls that will continue to violate the DTI guidelines may also face closure as Labella has earlier warned.

The Market Authority also encouraged the public to report any overpricing by establishments to the DTI. /dbs

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TAGS: City Market Authority, department, DTI, face mask, industry, Labella, Matuguina, overpriced, paper face mask, pharmacies, trade

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