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Price freeze ordered for influenza medications in Puerto Rico

By on January 31, 2018

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico Consumer Affairs (DACO by its Spanish acronym) Secretary Michael Pierluisi announced Wednesday that in light of the increase in reported cases of influenza, his department issued a price freeze order to prevent possible unjustified increases in the price of items necessary to protect or recover from this infectious disease.

This order takes effect immediately and, according to Act 50-2017, will have a duration of 10 days, unless the secretary declares a shorter or longer duration during its validity.

According to the order, all products, materials, supplies and any article whose consumption or use is needed to prevent, combat or provide relief from the effects of influenza are declared essential items.

This definition includes, but is not limited to analgesics and medications with acetaminophen (tablets, suppositories, or in liquid form), personal disinfection items (such as hand sanitizer), thermometers, household disinfection items, vinyl gloves, antibacterial soaps, masks, disposable handkerchiefs, Relenza (5 milligrams [mg]) and Tamiflu–or its equivalent–(30 mg, 45 mg, 75 mg or powder for 60 ml suspension), influenza vaccines and any other item a consumer may reasonably need to prevent, combat or mitigate the health effects from influenza.

Increases prices as of the signing of the order is prohibited at all levels of distribution and marketing. Any item that has been announced in a special sale prior to the issuance of the order must honor its terms and conditions until the announced deadline.

The terms and conditions of sale cannot be altered in any way that could result in an increase in the price of a product. However, the prices of any product and service may be reduced.

Wholesalers or retailers, whose supplier notifies them of a price increase on articles of first necessity, will be able to raise the price on that product in particular–without previous authorization from DACO–as long as they maintain an equal gross margin on profit or less than at the time the order was issued.

Any wholesaler or retailer whose supplier notifies about a price increase on any of the items mentioned above will immediately be obligated to notify DACO of the supplier’s price increase notification.

Wholesale and retail merchants who want to begin to sell any of the aforementioned items are authorized to sell them without prior authorization from DACO, as long as the items’ gross profit margin is 30 percent or less, calculated on the basis of the sale price and acquisition cost.

Documents proving compliance with the margin authorized under the provision must be available for inspection at all times.

Any person who sells essential items must preserve the pertinent documents related to their purchase and sale for a period of one year, from the effective date of the order.

Violations of this order and the laws and regulations that authorize it would be subject to the administrative and criminal sanctions provided by Acts 5 of April 23, 1973, and 228 of May 12, 1942, as amended. Sanctions include the imposition of administrative fines for each violation committed.

Any person subject to the provisions of the order may submit a request for reconsideration specifying their objections to any of the provisions, accompanied by sworn statements (affidavits) or other written evidence in support of such objections, according to Article 11 of the Insular Supplies Act, as amended.

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