By Jack Lapidus
A PHARMACY in Miri has stopped selling 3-ply face masks following the government’s decision to lower the ceiling price to RM1.50 starting today.
Its chief pharmacist Sim Lee Ping said her pharmacy would be making a loss under the new price considering that she paid RM90 for a box containing 50 pieces, Borneo Post reported.
“From the calculation, I’ve paid for RM1.80 per piece as cost. If I had to follow the government’s new ceiling price of RM1.50, I am selling at a loss.”
She suggested that the government should instead set a separate ceiling price for different grades of face masks.
“Surgical face mask available in the market have bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) of 95 per cent, which is sufficient for ordinary citizens.
The BFE grade of over 99 per cent would not be easily available as these are usually supplied to front liners, particularly medical personnel handling Covid-19 patients.
The government should enlighten the public to differentiate the BFE grades and also the difference between surgical and general use face masks. When the public understand the quality they will agree with the price, she said.
Sim pointed out that it is almost impossible to purchase surgical masks with BFE 99 per cent filtration at a price lower than RM90 for a box of 50.
She said the price of face masks being sold at her pharmacy had led to several customers complaining to authorities who came three times to check.
“I was selling at a price to ensure that I did not make a loss and nor did I profiteer from this.
“The officers who came to check my pricing also ended up buying the face masks from me,” she said.
Rather than making a loss, Sim decided to just distribute the face masks to frontliners, an initiative she has been carrying out since the Movement Control Order (MCO) started.
“Whenever I arrive at checkpoints, I will hand out face masks as I understand that there is shortage of face masks among the police and army who have higher risk of exposure to the disease ,” she said.