Rates of Oxygen concentrators, Oximeters triple, local dealers blame big guns
By: Ahmed Shabir
Anantnag: Amid the second wave of Covid-19 across the country, the prices of essential medical devices have skyrocketed. The sudden rise in the prices of pulse oximeters, infra-red thermometers, oxygen concentrators and flow meters have led to their shortage in the market, thus making the people infected with Covid-19 suffer badly.
According to some wholesale dealers of these devices operating from southern Anantnag district, the oxygen concentrators, which normally cost around Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 are now being sold at Rs 65,000-Rs 70,000.
“After the second wave of Covid the big dealers of these devices in Delhi and other states of India have hoarded oxygen concentrators with the intention to sell them at the rates of their will. This illegal profiteering has created artificial shortage of concentrators making the people suffer,” said Khalid Ahmad Keen, proprietor of Friends traders Anantnag.
Khalid had around 30 oxygen concentrators in stock that he had ordered in the first wave of pandemic last year but he sold all of them soon after the second wave hit the Valley like other parts of India.
Khalid later did not order any fresh concentrators despite growing demand.
“The billing for the concentrator which we used to sell at 35000 to 40000 rupees now goes at 60 to 65 thousands. Keeping in view the prices we avoided ordering the same. This hoarding by big dealers in times of this raging pandemic resulted in shortage of concentrators,” Khalid told Precious Kashmir.
Not only the concentrators, the prices of flow-meters that are fixed to the oxygen cylinders to fix and check the oxygen flow too have touched the skies.
Khalid said that the flow meter that he would earlier purchase for 600 to 700 rupees now costs around 1700 to 1800 rupees. “Both the companies and big dealers are involved in hoarding and profiteering of these life saving medical devices in times of pandemic. We are too small a people to control it. Since our conscience does not allow us to sell the life saving medical device three times more than its original price we stopped ordering and selling them,” Khalid said.
Oxygen concentrator is a device which runs on electricity and sucks oxygen from the atmosphere and delivers it to the person suffering from respiratory illness. It is used at home by the covid patients whose oxygen saturation dips below 80.
Like oxygen concentrators and flow meters, the demand for the pulse oximeters and infrared thermometers too has gone through the roof but both devices are selling at the rates two or three times more than they used to sell before the pandemic.
Basharat Ahmad, another dealer of medical devices and proprietor of Unique Traders who also operates from Anantnag, rued how the big guns have created artificial shortage of the medical devices at a time helpless people needed them.
“Before the pandemic, the oximeters were being purchased either by doctors or medicates. After the covid outbreak the demand for the same has grown 100 percent. But tragedy is that the companies and big guns have hiked the prices of these devices three times more than their original price. Authorities who were supposed to check this profiteering in times of disaster are maintaining silence,” Basharat told Precious Kashmir.
Before Pandemic, Basharat had purchased oxymeters from a company at the rate of 400 rupees which he later sold at 500 rupees. However after the second wave of pandemic, when Basharat contacted the company again, the rates he was told shocked him.
“I was shocked when they told me that the cost of the same oximeter is now 1400 rupees. This is how these heartless creatures make fortunes out of the illnesses of the poor people,” Basharat said.
Pulse oximeters is used to check the oxygen level in the body of the patient.
Basharat said that the infrared thermometers used to check body temperature of a person also witnessed huge price hikes in times of pandemic.
“Some companies sold these thermometers for six to seven thousand rupees also while others sold them at the rate of 3000 to 4000 rupees. These thermometers usually cost around 1500 rupees. No doubt the cost of medical devices may go up in times of pandemics but you cannot hike the price of the product four times more. It is actually a big mafia running this business and enjoying the patronage of big people,” Basharat said.