The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and city government monitored the prices of medical supplies, including face masks, being sold in major drugstores, pharmacies, and retailers.

The City Marketing Operations Division (CMOD), together with the DTI, led the inspection which aims to closely monitor the prices of basic and prime commodities especially medical supplies such as surgical masks and N95 face masks.

Nathaniel M. Samson, chief of the Consumer Protection Division of DTI-Pampanga, said the agency is working hand in hand with the city government to regulate the suggested retail price (SRP) for medical supplies issued by the Department of Health (DOH).

“We are conducting this activity to ensure that these drugstores are following the SRP set by DOH. Anyone proven to exceed in the price range given by DOH will be subjected to a case of profiteering which has a penalty of PHP500 to PHP2 million,” Samson said.

Meanwhile, Mila D. Rivera, Market Supervisor II of the City Market Operations Division, encouraged all Fernandinos to avoid buying surgical masks from street vendors and instead go to licensed drugstores.

“Yung quality and component ng face mask na binebenta nila hindi natin sigurado if pasado. Mas maganda kung sa drugstore kasi regulated sila. Another, yung danger sa pagbili sa bangketa, ngayon nandito sila pero bukas wala na kasi mobile nga sila (We are not sure of the quality and component of the face mask they (street vendors) are selling. It is better in the drugstores because they are regulated. Another danger is when you buy from street vendors, they are now there but tomorrow they may no longer be there because they are mobile),” she said.

Rivera also asked consumers to report to them any store overpricing medical supplies. These, she said, will be referred to the Business License and Permit Division and become subject for closure.

For his part, Mayor Edwin D. Santiago reminded Fernandinos to be vigilant about the prices of the medical supplies they are buying and retailers of medical supplies not to take advantage of the huge demand for face masks.

Consumers are enjoined to report to the DTI all retailers and suppliers selling overpriced masks by reporting them to the nearest DTI Provincial Office or through the One-DTI (1-384) Hotline.

The suggested retail prices of some products set by the DOH are N95 mask – PHP45 to PHP100 each; disposable face mask—PHP1.10 to PHP8; Ethyl Alcohol 70% solution 60 mL—PHP17.25 to PHP25.50; Ethyl Alcohol 70% solution 250 mL—PHP36.75 to PHP41.75 and Ethyl Alcohol 70% solution 500 mL—PHP61 to PHP74.25. (PNA)