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Maharashtra FDA directs DIs to enhance inspections in wholesale and retail premises to curb overcharging of masks

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Saturday, October 31, 2020, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

To keep an oversight on violations in sale of face masks, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has directed all drug inspectors (DIs)  in the state to enhance inspections in wholesale and retail premises to curb overcharging following price capping notification of masks by the state government recently.

The Maharashtra government had recently notified prices of masks based on state government constituted expert panel report in consultation with Maharashtra FDA and mask manufacturers, Venus Health and Safety Pvt Ltd and Magnum Health and Safety Pvt Ltd. The panel was headed by former state health insurance CEO Dr Sudhakar Shinde.

Maharashtra FDA conducted 1945 inspections related to mask in the month of June and July with major crackdown on establishments for selling N95 masks at exorbitant prices. It raided premises of establishments selling reputed brand of N95 masks at higher rates despite price control. Brands included Venus, Magnum and 3M, among others.

As per the new rates, an N-95 mask would cost between Rs. 19 to Rs. 45 depending on its kind, while a 3-ply would cost Rs 4 and a 2-ply mask Rs. 3. At present, an N-95 mask costs Rs. 150 to Rs. 600 in the market, while a 3-ply mask costs anywhere between Rs. 20 to Rs. 40.
According to officials, mask manufacturers are yet to register themselves on the online Sugam medical device portal, as per union health ministry directive.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier asked manufacturers to voluntarily get registered on the CDSCO medical device online portal –cdscomdonline.gov.in to monitor quality of masks in the country. The registration will secure the manufacturers a registration number from the CDSCO, which will, reportedly, also be a quality management system benchmark.

It had also earlier asked manufacturers, importers and suppliers of the N95 masks to maintain parity in prices for non-government procurement and make them available at reasonable prices.

The state government move to fix prices of masks comes close on the heels of raids conducted on illegal sale of N-95 masks at several premises in Mumbai under the guidance of Rajendra B Shingne, Maharashtra FDA Minister.

People at homes and healthcare settings are supposed to wear masks as per WHO, Union health ministry and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

“The ministry of consumer affairs vide its notification dated March 13, 2020 with a view to regulate the production, quality, distribution, logistics of masks (2 ply and 3 ply surgical masks and N95 masks) declared them as essential commodities and subsequently fixed the retail prices to a maximum of Rs. 10 for 3 ply mask and Rs. 8 for 2 ply mask,” the consumer affairs ministry had said in a statement.


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