The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has capped the prices of medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders following complaints of black marketing and hoarding because of increased demand for them for Covid-19 patients.

Officials said the move is aimed at ensuring the availability of medical oxygen at reasonable prices. Many states are dependent on the medical oxygen supply from other states.

The demand for medical oxygen has gone up almost four times, from 750 metric tonnes per day to 2,800 metric tonnes daily, causing a strain at all levels in the value chain of production and supply.

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“During COVID, the supply of medical oxygen through cylinders has increased from 10% to around 50% of total consumption. Price regulation at this end is imperative for the continued availability of medical oxygen across the country,” said an official statement.

An empowered group at the Centre responsible for looking into this issue had recommended NPPA to consider capping the ex-factory prices.

Officials said the Union health ministry gave a free hand to NPPA to take all necessary steps to immediately regulate the availability and pricing.