Coronavirus: Price-hike pharmacy offers Calpol for £19.99

Image source, Majid Mahmood
Image caption,
The pharmacy was selling Calpol for as much as £19.99

A pharmacy which priced bottles of Calpol at £19.99 has been criticised for the "extortionate" move.

A branch of West Midlands-based chain Jhoots had 200ml bottles of the liquid paracetamol advertised at about three times its usual price.

Birmingham councillor Majid Mahmood said people from his Hodge Hill ward had phoned him "in tears" to complain.

Blaming a communication error, Jhoots said it would refund customers and ensure no repeat of the error.

Mr Mahmood posted a photo of the pharmacy shelves on Twitter, which also showed smaller 100ml bottles priced at £9.99.

He also claimed the same shop had been offering a 32-pack of paracetamol at £1.39 a week ago, but was now asking £9.99 for the item.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Jhoots, based in Walsall, said in a statement "disparities" in some branches had stemmed from "an erroneous communication" and it had since taken steps to correct prices.

Pharmacists have warned that wholesale paracetamol prices have gone up amid the coronavirus crisis.

"Business is business, they have to make a profit," Mr Mahmood said.

"But firms shouldn't be charging extortionate pricing when you know people are desperate in a national crisis.

"When you've got people crying down the phone because they can't afford Calpol - that's wrong."

In a statement posted on Twitter, Jhoots said: "We have acted immediately and conducted a thorough investigation into this matter and have found that following an erroneous communication, price increases were made at branch level.

"In order to rectify the issue we will make full refunds to our customers affected by this and have taken all appropriate action to ensure that this does not happen again."

Government watchdog the Competitions and Markets Authority said it was receiving "an extremely high number of calls" about inflated pricing during the Covid-19 outbreak.

A Birmingham City Council spokeswoman said its trading standards department could take action over "dual-pricing".

She said traders could charge "what they want" for items without a price mark, but it was a criminal offence to charge more for pre-priced products.

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