The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) said it has begun investigating pharmacies across the country which have inflated the cost of hydroxychloroquine, a drug used for clinical treatment of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The commission announced this in a statement signed by Babatunde Irukera, its Chief Executive Officer, and published on its Twitter handle on Tuesday.
According to the commission, it began investigating following tons of social media posts of consumers claiming that some pharmacies in Lagos and Rivers states were selling the drug within the range of N50,000-N75,000.
The statement read: “Between 10.00A.M. and 6.00P.M. today (Tuesday), the Commission conducted simultaneous onsite 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 Health Plus Limited has indeed carried 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 said it also noticed what it appeared to be the inconsistent pricing of other products considered relevant to managing COVID-19.
It said such products were sold at margins between 66 to 89 per cent.
While noting that investigation is still ongoing, the FCCPC said unjust and irrational price margins fixed by companies is a criminal offence under the FCCPC Act.
“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,” the statement read.