Consignments of N95 masks stuck up at ports
KARACHI: Several consignments of N95 masks are stuck-up at the ports, as the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has refused to grant no objection certificate (NoC) to commercial importers for sale or distribution of these medical devices in the market.
An importer Sharjeel Jamal claimed that Customs authorities were demanding bribes for clearance of N95 masks. “They are asking for DRAP NoC vide SRO32 of DRA Act, which is not meant for N95 masks.”
Deputy Collector of Customs Tauseef Gorchani confirmed that consignments were stuck-up due to non-provision of NoC from DRAP. “These are medical respirators and there are certain conditions for import and clearance of medical devices. It is the responsibility of DRAP to issue NoCs and we cannot release these goods without completing the requirements.”
DRAP is issuing NoC for the import of N95 masks subject to certain conditions, which include that these goods would not be sold or distributed in the market; would be used in the hospital or institution only and not for the purpose of clinical trial, examination, test or analysis; importer shall be fully responsible for the quality, safety and performance of the said medical devices.
Vice President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Khurram Aijaz said consignments of medical devices including respirator masks were stuck-up and only those importers having supply contracts from hospitals or similar institutions were able to obtain NoC from the regulator.
“Commercial import and sale of these masks is not allowed, which has caused severe shortage and price hike of these goods.”
Soon after confirmation of two positive cases of coronavirus in late February, demand of masks multiplied resulting in abnormal increase in their prices.
As their demand increased, the surgical masks, which were being sold for Rs5, are now being sold for Rs25/piece, and N95 masks, which are recommended by health experts for protection against coronavirus, saw a 10 times increase in their price.