Oximeter turns dearer as supply plummets

Dealers have been trying for advance booking of oximeters to meet the demand but are yet to get confirmation from manufacturers. File.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

There seems to be an absolute shortage of pulse oximeter, the tiny equipment used to determine oxygen level in the blood, in Kerala, also leading to a steep rise in its price across districts.

Falling of oxygen levels in blood is a major reason for death of COVID-19 patients. Those who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and suspected patients too have been advised to use the meter to avoid a critical condition.

Rajesh Pillai, State functionary, All Kerala Scientific and Surgical Dealers’ Association, said wholesale dealers had exhausted their existing stock, and fresh ones were yet to arrive. “We purchase pulse oximeters mainly from New Delhi and Mumbai. By April second week, there was a surge in COVID-19 cases in those places, resulting in a high demand for meters there for personal use. So, the arrival of the machines from there stopped gradually,” he added.

Mr. Pillai said dealers had been trying for advance booking of the product to meet the demand but were yet to get any confirmation from manufacturers.

The trend has also led to the shooting up of prices. T.P. Faisal, a social activist associated with the Government Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode, said from between ₹600 and ₹700, the meters now cost between ₹1,500 and ₹4,000. “We don’t know if some suppliers are indulging in black marketeering,” he said. With the State government instructing ward-level rapid response teams to keep at least 10 pulse oximeters ready with them, local bodies too are a desperate lot.

Mohammed Koya, a medical representative from Perumanna in Kozhikode, said efforts were on to import the equipment from China. Medical store owners say they normally do not stock them up, as the meters are normally not high in demand. Some of them had to sell off the stock before April at a low price.

Mr. Pillai said dealers were purchasing the meters in a price range between ₹1,500 and ₹1,800. The retail price will thus go up considering transportation charges and others.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 11:31:38 PM |

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