After strong criticism against the head of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Commerce (Mific), Orlando Solórzano, due to his passivity in the face of the pandemic and the increasing speculation of prices, particularly in medicines, this week it was learned that the ministry actually activated a line to receive consumer complaints against locals who are speculating on prices, especially pharmacies and others linked to fighting the pandemic.

THE PRESS called 22489300 extension 2254 and verified that it is indeed a number of the Mific, from whose central plant, in case the extension is not entered, they transfer you to the General Directorate for the Protection of the Rights of Consumers and Users (Diprodec), where they are receiving complaints.

From the outset, the person in charge of registering the complaint clarifies that they are receiving all kinds of complaints about violations against the consumer, including changes in the prices of medical products in pharmacies.

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“If the pharmacy has altered prices, you put the complaint here where we give us the name of the pharmacy, the address, the medicine that is altered, its name, the price they are giving you, that is, the data that we require us to go do the inspection », they explain.

Of course, they clarify that they cannot receive complaints from people who are independently selling products with altered prices, because it would be difficult to reach them, so they appeal to the responsibility of the consumer to go to formal premises, that is, duly registered, which facilitates the inspection to the Mific.

The news was well received by the Nicaraguan Chamber of Commerce and Services (CCSN), although it clarified some points that consumers should take into account before proceeding against a local and some actions that Mific should also adopt to combat market speculation. .

Carmen Hilleprandt, president of the CCSN, stated that they agree with the Mific monitoring market prices, in this case of medical supplies to attend the pandemic, but clarified that there are some factors that have increased prices and that they must be taken into account by consumers and by the government authorities themselves.

“I agree that the Ministry decides, due to an issue that has raised everything here, but it must also be taken into account that the costs of raw materials and some supplies have risen due to problems that occur in Customs, and because there is a global increase in the price of some products, so it has become more expensive since the introduction ”, explained Hilleprandt.

That is to say that in the high prices in Nicaragua there is not only speculation but also international market and border problems.

Mific does not regulate prices as masks

An element that consumers should know is that Mific does not regulate medical replacement prices, such as face masks, gloves or gel alcohol, which are the ones that have most altered their accessibility in the Nicaraguan market. The Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Pharmaceutical Product Distributors (Andiprofa) agreed on this explanation.

“Now those who are masks, gloves, that is not regulated by prices authorized by Mific, there is no regulation. This will unfortunately obey the speculative issue, it will obey how it is being imported, “said Karen Conrado, executive director of Andiprofa, who pointed out that the smuggling of these inputs may also have an impact, damaging the businesses that are formally registered.

Andiprofa brings together importers and distributors of medicines, medical equipment, periodic replacement materials such as resistances, cannulas and laboratory reagents. The pharmacies, to which they distribute, are in another association.

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Eye with the label

On the other hand, Conrado explains that as a sector they are governed by the prices authorized by Mific. “A product does not come out of our partner companies without it being labeled with the price that Mific has as authorized,” he explains.

In this regard, Conrado explains that generally these medicines on the packaging carry the labeling of the authorized price, but some pharmacies offer discounts, so the client must know that the payment they are going to make can never be higher than the price established on the label, which you should always check when buying these products.

For example, if a drug has a label that states that the authorized price is 100 cordobas, when pharmacies offer discounts of 20 to 30 percent, that final price to the customer cannot exceed that authorized price, hence the importance of being pending of that label to verify if there is no alteration of price.

“So, if the pharmacy is selling the medicine at a price above one hundred cordobas, which is the price of the label, of course it is an illegal price, it is not correct, because we as distributors already get the price with the authorized Mific », He specifies.

Conrado explains that as importers and distributors they cannot control the prices that the pharmacies are giving, but he understands that if this is “serious, that he does not want to be fined, that he does not want to have a problem, he will never sell a medicine above the price of label”.

Another possible cause: less consumer discounts

Andiprofa also points out that another element that must be taken into account is that possibly due to the pandemic worldwide, “many of the raw materials have been scarce, there is a lot of demand in other countries, so their prices have increased considerably. . This could be one of the factors by which laboratories, when manufacturing and selling their medicines, cannot offer the same discounts as before the pandemic, so that pharmacies can transfer it to the client. That is a possibility.

So, adds Conrado, this possibly causes pharmacies to reduce the levels of discounts they generally gave on medicines before the world health crisis and that customers are used to paying with discounts of between 20 and 30 percent with respect to the price. authorized by Mific. So the idea can be created in the consumer that there is a price change.

Other factors that impact prices

In fact, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, who urged Mific to review what is the root of the problem in the market? And why have medicines become more expensive? Remember that “right now we have a problem with Costa Rica and there are many supplies stuck on the border and they have not been able to enter, and that makes costs more expensive.” All that, in the end affects the final price to the consumer.

But Hilleprandt also mentioned that since not all cargo airlines are operating, that is also influencing costs. “Only FedEx and Ups are coming, so what happens? the freight has increased, a freight that previously cost maybe $ 800 right now costs $ 40,000. For bringing some reagents, before you paid $ 4,000 now $ 14,000, all this has increased the inputs and also at the Customs level now ISC and VAT are being paid, “he said.

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Regulation to informal

Hilleprandt, on the other hand, pointed out that just as prices in formal pharmacies will begin to be monitored, the sale of supplies must be regulated informally, which they sell cheaper, but without paying taxes and without the established parameters.

“I think there should be policies here that motivate you to be a legal merchant, that you have a profit, that you are not punished, but the opposite is the case here, and they do not regulate the informal, because there are too many and they could not, but They should do it, “he said.