Johannesburg – Pharmaceutical retailer, Dischem Pharmacies has been charged by the Competition Competition for allegedly hiking prices on essential products during the national lockdown.
The Competition Commission conducted an investigation in which it found Dischem to have charged excessive prices on essential hygiene products including face masks, said the commission in a statement.
It further added that before the national lockdown, the pharmaceutical retailer was selling three different masks at far lower prices.
“For surgical face masks blue 50PC, the average price was inflated from R43.47 (excl VAT) per unit (50 masks) in February 2020 to (R156.95 (excl VAT) per unit (50 masks) in March 2020, a price increase of 261%,” the statement said.
The company’s gross profit margins inflated from 20% in February 2020 to 45% in March 2020.
Commissioner said: “People who sell these essential products ought to appreciate that these literally lifesaving 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.”
The Competition Commission has referred the matter to the tribunal and further asked the tribunal to impose a maximum penalty against Dischem.