The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has fined 16 pharmacies Tk23.5 lakh during two separate mobile court drives across the capital on Tuesday as they were overcharging for surgical masks and sanitisers.
RAB-2 Company Commander Mohiuddin Faruqee told The Business Standard that they found at least 6 pharmacy authorities claiming to have no masks and sanitisers.
"Following their claim, we searched the pharmacies and found these equipment available, and fined them for their misleading information," he added.
During the mobile court drive in Shyamoli, eight pharmacies were fined Tk8.5 lakh for selling surgical masks and hand sanitisers at higher prices than usual.
Medicus, Anurag and Dhaka pharmacy were also among the fined pharmacies.
"We came to know that some of the pharmacy owners posted small signs saying they don't have masks or sanitisers on stock. But they were secretly selling those at higher prices," said Executive Magistrate Aktaruzzaman.
The pharmacy owners claimed that the companies were not supplying masks or sanitisers to them, he added.
Nizam Uddin, an employee at Dhaka Pharmacy, said, "We placed orders for Hexisol hand rub and sanitisers to ACI, Eskayef, Square, and Aristopharma multiple times. But their marketing teams kept telling us that they [the companies] don't have any supply."
RAB Executive Magistrate Sarower Alam conducted the other drive at medical equipment market in the Mitford Hospital area of Old Dhaka.
During the drive, the mobile court fined Tk15 lakh to eight pharmacies for charging high prices on masks and sanitisers.
The mobile court also sentenced a pharmacy owner in the area to a one-year imprisonment.
"Some traders are overcharging customers for surgical masks and hand sanitisers and cashing in on the coronavirus fear. We are conducting drives upon receiving specific complaints," said the magistrate.