As the spike in COVID19 cases across J&K has raised demand for pulse oximeters, some pharmacies in Kashmir have arbitrarily hiked the price of the device even as the government has failed to act against profiteers.
Pulse oximeters are medical devices that monitor oxygen level in patients' blood.
As per the new guidelines, Covid-19 patients under home isolation in J&K have been directed to check their oxygen level every three hours.
"The device before the pandemic outbreak was sold at Rs 1500; now it has been priced at Rs 3500," Ajaz Ahmad, a Srinagar resident said.
"Unfortunately the law enforcement agencies have failed to act against pharmacies selling the equipment at exorbitant prices," he said. "We can buy oximeters online but the delivery time is very long. The state government should procure the devices and sell them at subsidized rates," he demanded.
According to health department officials many pharmacies have imported substandard oximeters which cost just Rs 500 but are being sold at Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 in the market.
A senior legal metrology department official said: "It is mandatory for pharmacies selling imported oximeters to ensure that there are details written on the product cover which includes MRP, manufacturing country, details of importer. But what we have found is that most of the devices don't have details implying that they are mostly substandard."
He said the legal metrology department (LMD) today booked three drug store owners for offering sale of Pulse-Oximeters without MRP and other mandatory declarations. "A fine of Rs 25000 was slapped on them."
A team of officials headed by Deputy Controller LMD conducted inspections of about 30 drug stores in the Srinagar city to ascertain the genuineness of the complaints received by it against overpricing by the drug stores.
During the inspection, it was ascertained from the bills that the retail drug stores have bought oximeters within a range of Rs 600 to Rs 1200 and they were found selling them at Rs 1000 to Rs 2000.
Under Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, it is the right of the consumer to know about the price of the product and manufacturer details.