"I think it is outrageous that at a time of a national crisis"
A UK pharmacy chain has sparked outrage for charging £19.99 for a bottle of Calpol. The business has now apologised.
A 200ml bottle usually costs around £6.50, while a 100ml costs £3.50.
However, Jhoots Pharmacy branches in the Birmingham area inflated their prices following the panic-buying which stemmed from the Coronavirus pandemic.
As well as increasing the price of Calpol, the pharmacy were also selling boxes of 32 paracetamol tablets for £9.99, when they are usually priced at £1.
Majid Mahmood, Labour Councillor for Bromford and Hodge Hill, slammed the business for their “exploitative pricing”.
He told Metro: “I was approached by a plethora of residents last night furious that the price of Calpol had increased to £9.99 and £19.99 for the small and large bottles coupled with paracetamol selling for £9.99 despite been sold for £1.39 previously at the Jhoots Pharmacy in Ward End and Bromford.
“I think it is outrageous that at a time of a national crisis when we all should be working together that there is this exploitative pricing in deprived parts of the country.
“A lot of my residents don’t drive and rely on local pharmacies for their medical needs.
“I would ask that all customers are refunded, the pricing put back to normal and the government steps in to cap prices on all essential food and medical items across the country.”
A huge shout out to @metro for highlighting the exploitative pricing of Calpol and Paracetamol.
We need to pull together during this national crisis not put profits before people ??#COVID19
— Cllr Majid Mahmood (@CllrMajid) March 19, 2020
Following the criticism, Jhoots Pharmacy promised to refund customers who paid the inflated price.
In a statement, they said: “The community should always have access to the family medicines they need. We are deeply sorry that some customers were charged too much for some items.
“Over the last few weeks, we have seen an unprecedented change in the way we live and do business as a result of COVID-19.
“Jhoots Pharmacies have been working incredibly hard to serve our communities during this difficult and challenging time and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.
“This week, as a result of an erroneous internal pricing communication, prices of some items were increased in a small number of our branches. This was rectified immediately in all our branches.
“We are deeply sorry for this error and recognise that during this difficult period and beyond, the community should always have access to the family medicines they need at the correct prices.
“Our branches are at the heart of the community and have been serving them loyally for decades.”
“We take our responsibilities to our customers and neighbours seriously and can reassure everyone this will never happen again.
“Customers who have already purchased an item which has been mispriced can claim a full refund, and those who are unwell or self-isolating can also contact their local branch to arrange for medicines and other essential items to be delivered to their homes free of charge.
“All members of the Jhoots Pharmacy team will continue working closely with the community and our local partners in the weeks ahead and support in any way we can.”
In early March 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was monitoring reports of price rises since the outbreak.
A statement from the CMA said: “The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) wants to ensure that traders do not exploit the current situation to take advantage of people.
“It will consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law, for example by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about the efficacy of protective equipment. And it will take direct enforcement action in appropriate cases.
“In addition, the CMA will assess whether it should advise the Government to consider taking direct action to regulate prices.”