Cape Town pharmacies fall foul of pricing rules for hand sanitisers, face masks

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Cape Town – Two Table View pharmacies have agreed to donate money to the Solidarity Fund after being accused of charging excessive prices for hand sanitisers and face masks.

The Competition Tribunal recently confirmed a number of consent agreements relating to Covid-19 excessive pricing complaints, bringing the total number of agreements approved to 11.

All complaints relate to the pricing of goods seen as essential in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, including hand sanitisers, face masks or surgical gloves.

The Competition Commission concluded the agreements with the companies after receiving and investigating complaints from the public.

Merlot Pharmacy has undertaken to donate R16 832 to the Solidarity Fund; and reduce its gross profit margin on facial masks and hand sanitisers to an agreed maximum with immediate effect.

Also in Table View, the Commission found that Seaside Pharmacy had an average cost mark-up of 63.04% and gross profit margin of 38.67% for hand sanitisers and average cost mark-up of 44.95% and gross profit margin of 31% for face masks in March and April.

Seaside Pharmacy agreed to donate R4 168.00 to the Solidarity Fund and immediately reduce its gross profit margin on face masks and hand sanitisers.

Bloemfontein-based supplier Domoney has undertaken to contribute R30 040 to the Solidarity Fund. It will also donate face shields worth R30 040 to the Carel du Toit School for the Deaf, the Universitas Hospital and the Pelonomi Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein.

Domoney was accused by the Commission of marking up the price of its dust masks by 56% in February and 262% in March.

The company has also agreed to immediately desist from excessive pricing conduct and to reduce its mark-up on dust masks to an agreed maximum for the duration of the state of national disaster.

Weleda Pharmacies, which operates in the Bryanston and Fourways areas, has undertaken to donate R18 750 to the Solidarity Fund and reduce its gross profit margin on the sale of hand sanitisers.

The Commission found that the average cost mark-up of approximately 50% and gross profit margin of 33.33% in respect of 500ml hand sanitisers for March was high and possibly a contravention of the act read with the regulations.

Meanwhile, two separate tribunal hearings have been held in which companies Babelegi Workwear and Industrial Supplies and Dis-chem, accused of excessive pricing, have contested the Commission’s cases against them.

The tribunal has heard oral arguments.

Proceedings were heard through video conferencing in line with the tribunal’s Covid-19 directives. A decision is yet to be made.

Cape Times

By Lisa Isaacs


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