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Demand for sanitizers, masks at a fever pitch

According to data shared by All Food and Drug License Holders Foundation (AFDLHF) that represents around 7,000 pharmaceutical suppliers, the total market for masks has swelled up to Rs 450 crore over the last two months from about Rs 200 crore annually.

Last Updated: Feb 14, 2020, 01.00 PM IST
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Besides big metros, demand for masks, hand sanitizers and soaps is also high in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Jaipur, according to online pharmacy PharmEasy.
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New Delhi: Here’s a consumer demand generator — Covid-19. Masks and sanitizers are flying off the shop shelves in India, especially in metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata, thanks to buyers responding to the disease scare.

Medical supplies shops in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru and epharmacy startups like 1mg and PharmEasy are all about to face an acute shortage of masks and sanitizers in the coming weeks.

According to data shared by All Food and Drug License Holders Foundation (AFDLHF) that represents around 7,000 pharmaceutical suppliers, the total market for masks has swelled up to Rs 450 crore over the last two months from about Rs 200 crore annually. India currently has capacity to make 300,000-400,000 masks with 2.5-3 million in stocks now.

“Demand was earlier 600,000-700,000 a month. Now sales are about 1-1.2 million a month,” said Abhay Pandey, national president, AFDLHF.

Besides big metros, demand for masks, hand sanitizers and soaps is also high in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Jaipur, according to online pharmacy PharmEasy. “We are experiencing a surge in demand for our protective face masks in India, North America, Europe and China. We are increasing production at multiple facilities globally to address the growing demand,” said a Honeywell spokeswoman to an emailed questionnaire. In India, the US and Europe, Honeywell products are sold through retailers, including suppliers of industrial parts and safety products.

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Nirvana Being, a shop in the posh Khan Market locality in Delhi, is selling about 12,000-15,000 masks per day (offline and online). “We expect to be out of stock in a week or so,” Jai Dhar Gupta, founder of Nirvana Being, told ET. The most efficient masks, also tested by Nelson Labs in USA, are Vogmask and the O2 Curve mask that have a viral filtration efficiency that exceeds 99.99%.

Mumbai’s Sterling Chemist shop at Peddar Road has run out of N95 masks since a week now. At Bengaluru’s Yasho Pharma at Residency Road, demand for masks has gone up 200 times, while at Sreedhar Medicals, sales of masks and sanitisers have gone up 3-4 times over the last few weeks. In the upmarket areas of Kolkata such as Salt Lake and Park Street, the N95 masks and hand sanitizers are almost over in at least a couple of shops where ET checked.

The export demand for 3 ply face masks has shot up especially from countries like China and Thailand. Overall, products that assist in health and general hygiene are seeing a surge.

Most masks like N95 and surgical masks are in short supply. According to Tanmay Saksena, COO of 1mg, the high demand is similar to that seen during the peak pollution days in Delhi.

Demand for masks those days had mostly been Delhi centric. “But now it has gone up everywhere. A limited stock of high-end masks is still available but the cheap Indian ones are completely over,” said a PharmEasy spokesman. He said that according to suppliers, demand for hand sanitizers has gone up 200 times at airport shops.

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