Smog attack: Face masks, eye drops running out of stock

Published: November 5, 2016
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The sale of face masks in Lahore has witnessed a sharp increase owing to smog. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

The sale of face masks in Lahore has witnessed a sharp increase owing to smog. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

LAHORE: With the provincial capital enveloped by a thick cloud of smog, face masks and artificial tears are running out of stock in Lahore because of unprecedented demand. The sale of the protective accessories has witnessed a steep increase as eye and throat infections are on the rise.

A number of citizens, especially motorcyclists, are complaining that disposable face masks and eye drops have disappeared from the shelves of most medical stores and pharmacies. The asking price for the items has also witnessed a sharp rise.

Complaining about the shortage and price hike, Muhammad Mukhtar said the green-coloured mask, which generally sells for Rs3 in normal days, was selling for up to Rs20 depending on the store’s location and the physical appearance of the buyer.

With people complaining of itching, rashes and eye burns after the smog attack in Lahore, unavailability of required medicines and unregulated price hike speaks volumes about lack of governance and business ethics.

Zeeshan Malik complained that artificial tears – generic eye drops – were in short supply in the market. “I have eye irritation problem and have to occasionally use such eye drops. For the past few days, shopkeepers have been claiming they are short in the market owing to high demand,” he pointed out.

Limited stocks

The demand of face masks, moisturising lotions and eye drops has registered a remarkable increase after smog engulfed the city. But most pharmacies or even distributors have limited stocks of these products.

Muhammad Shahzad, owner of Shifa Pharmacy in Township, said smog in Lahore was unprecedented and neither the government nor the industry or pharmacies were prepared for it.

Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association’s (PPMA) Khawaja Shahzeb Akram dispelled the impression that such medicines were short in the market. “The face mask may be in short supply but there is sufficient medicine stock available,” he added.

Responding to a question, Akram said artificial tear drops had a small market but all eye drops could substitute the artificial tears used against irritation or other eye-related problems.

Generally, he claimed, people lacked awareness about medicines, otherwise, markets were flooded with such products marketed under different brand names.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2016.

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