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Coronavirus outbreak: Masks, hand sanitisers classified as drugs to check hoarding, black marketing

Joe C Mathew     March 14, 2020

Coronavirus update: Centre has invoked clauses under the Disaster Management Act to mandate medicine price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to monitor the price movements of protective masks, hand sanitisers and gloves to check black-marketing and hoarding.

The decision has come in the wake of the surge in the demand of such items after the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

The provisions under the Act allows Health Ministry to notify these products as drugs and enable NPPA to regulate the availability and prices of the surgical and protective masks, hand sanitisers and Gloves in public interest.

Following the directive, NPPA on March 13 asked all state governments and union territories to take necessary steps to ensure sufficient availability of surgical and protective masks, hand sanitisers and gloves at prices not exceeding the maximum retail prices (MRP) printed on the pack size.

States and union territories have also been directed to monitor the production and distribution of above mentioned items by the manufacturers, importers, stockiest and retailers, as well as ensure that hoarding, black marketing and profiteering may not happen.

The move was triggered by reports of non-availability and black marketing of surgical and protective masks, hand sanitisers and gloves in several pockets of the country.

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