DisChem, one of South Africa’s leading pharmaceutical companies has been charged by The Competition Commission for inflating prices of essential products such as surgical masks.
According to the competition commission, an investigation was launched because of several complaints received from the public against stores owned by DisChem pharmacies for engaging in excessive pricing of face masks which contravenes with the Competition Act.
“These essential items are surgical face masks blue 50PC, surgical face masks 5PC and surgical face masks folio dress blue”. The statement reads.
Furthermore, the Commission also established that all these products that were reported by the public were sold by far lower prices before the declaration of National Disaster.
The 50PC surgical masks price was inflated from the average price of R43.47 (excl VAT) per unit (50 masks) in Feb 2020 to R156.95 in March 2020. This is a price increase of up to 261%. The 5PC surgical masks price was inflated from R13.27 to R19.03 during the same time which was a 43% increase. All these prices exclude VAT.
Dis-Chem’s input costs with regards to the surgical masks foliodress blue did not increase but their gross profit margins inflated from 20% in Feb 2020 to 45% in March 2020.
“People who sell these essential products ought to appreciate that these are literally life-saving items right now. They shouldn’t be exploitative and take advantage of cash strapped consumers during the worst time in our history. We will spare no effort in protecting the consumer,” Says tye competition Commissioner Bonakele.
The Commission has asked the Tribunal to impose a maximum penalty against Dis-Chem.