MUMBAI: With most of the world engulfed in the coronavirus crisis, not only have prices of medical masks and hand sanitisers shot up, the domestic market is now flooded with sub-standard and low-quality products as an unscrupulous few try to make a fast buck. This has prompted the medical device industry to seek government help on two counts — in capping prices, and ensuring quality, both with ramifications on consumers, health workers and industry. Concerned with the huge surge in prices over recent weeks, AiMED (Association of Indian Medical Device Industry) representing 700-odd manufacturers has sought intervention of drug prices regulator, NPPA, to cap prices of both masks and hand sanitisers.
Further, in the absence of mandatory standards for masks and protective gear (gowns and coveralls), industry has asked health ministry to ensure manufacturers maintain basic hygiene at their units, and importantly comply with basic standards as per WHO guidelines on Covid-19. (These guidelines state protective gear shall consist of a fluid-resistant gown, gloves, medical mask and eye protection googles).
The rise in number of coronavirus cases globally and in India, has led to a sudden mushrooming of unorganised manufacturers, much like a "cottage industry", leading to an extreme rise in prices, low quality products, shortages, and reports of profiteering. Reports of fake hand sanitiser units being busted by regulatory authorities, and used masks being recycled are doing the rounds.
Certain governments including Nagaland and Chandigarh have initiated measures to regulate prices of masks, but there is lack of enforcement to ensure labelling of MRP on packs. Says Rajiv Nath forum coordinator, AiMED "We have asked government to initiate price control on consumables and disposables, and suggested prices (of masks) should not exceed four times the ex-factory (import landed) price".
It may be pointed out that prices of all med devices will be regulated by government, once these are notified as drugs from April 1.
Though hand sanitisers come under the purview of Drugs & Cosmetics Act, their prices are not regulated, giving rise to certain companies hiking prices, or selling products which may not have the correct formulation (are alcohol-free), or herbal, and hence not very effective, industry experts say.
“The demand has suddenly skyrocketed leading to major brands disappearing from the market. Leading brands have maintained their MRPs, however several new brands have entered the market, at prices which are 30-40% higher", Dilip Mehta president Mumbai Pharmaceutical Wholesale Association told TOI.
“This is a chemical composition and needs some stability data. Unfortunately manufacturers taking new licenses with no experience, are launching products which may not be effective if they are not recommended for use in Covid-19”, says Naveen Jain ex-member Pharma Advisory Forum (department of pharmaceuticals) and a manufacturer of 'Namo' sanitizers.
US-based Centers for Disease ContRead More – Source