The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), in line with its mandate, has commenced a probe of excessive and unconscionable pricing of potentially vital medication that is perceived or presented as efficacious therapy in addressing COVID-19 by conducting enforcement activities of some pharmacies.
According to the Commission, there have been a rash of posts representing Hydroxychloroquine costing between N50,000.00 and N75,000. One of the posts allegedly showed the medicine and a price tag of N50,000 of Ebus Pharmacy in Port-Harcourt.
The Commission said it is also aware of the price display of N75,000 allegedly by HealthPlus Limited.
“Between 10.00A.M. and 6.00P.M. today, the Commission conducted simultaneous on-site investigations on Ebus, and Avis Pharmacy, both in Port-Harcourt; multiple locations of Health Plus Limited in Lagos and Abuja, Tonia Pharmacy, H-Medix, and New Health Pharmacies, all in Abuja.
“Although investigations are progressing, preliminary findings show that HealthPlus Limited indeed has carried at least two brands of Hydroxychloroquine with internal control documents showing sale prices of N33,000.00 and N75,000.00. Ebus admits the veracity of the posts showing its price at N50,000.00. There is evidence that New Health Pharmacy has sold Hydroxychloroquine between N50,000.00 and N65,000.00,” the FCCPC stated.
The Commission also said it discovered what appeared to be inconsistent pricing of other products that are considered relevant to managing COVID-19 with most being sold at margins between 66% and 89%.
Although investigation is at early stages, the Commission said it has yet to make any final findings.
“However unreasonable, unjust and irrational prices or margins are a criminal offence under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act and the Commission is currently prosecuting some pharmacies and supermarkets for this.
“It is unconscionable, exploitative and predatory to take opportunistic advantage of citizens on account of a pandemic and consumer apprehension. The Commission again reiterates its previous advisories and admonitions while reinstating its commitment, desire and will to enforce the law,” FCCPC’s Chief Executive Officer, Babatunde Irukera said.