Authorities Sanction Sonoran Pharmacy For Medication Price Gouging
Officials with Mexico’s consumer protection agency PROFECO slapped suspension signs on a pharmacy in Hermosillo, the capital of neigboring Sonora, Mexico, Monday after a customer reported being overcharged for medication. While the pharmacy isn’t being shut down because it provides an essential service, said Maribel Enriquez, director of the agency’s verification and surveillance department in Sonora, it could be fined up to 3 million pesos, or about $135,000.
Enriquez said the signs are a warning to customers that the pharmacy has been over charging for medication, and they won't be removed until fines are paid and the pharmacy is in compliance with regulations.
While this pharmacy is the first to be cited for price-gouging during the pandemic, however, Enriquez said she has no doubt others are doing the same.
"So why haven't we been able to proceed in this way in other cases?" she asked. "Because we don't have evidence of the purchase in which the price of the product was altered."
The customer who was overcharged in this case demanded a receipt, which provided evidence of the pharmacy's wrong-doing, Enriquez said, and she hopes more consumers will demand receipts and report any issues the agency.
"We see that people often make complaints through social media, but the right way is to make a complaint directly to PROFECO," she said. "Consumers can ask that any business be sanctioned if prices aren't displayed, for sales above the maximum price marked on the package or if medicines are hidden from sight."
She added that the agency also makes visits to pharmacies to ensure they are following regulations, but said customers reporting issues is a huge help in identifying noncompliance.
The overpriced medication in this case has been used to treat coronavirus symptoms in parts of Latin America, but is not approved for that use in the United States.