Mexico opens anti-monopoly probe amid oxygen price rise

Coronavirus

A woman rubs antibacterial gel into her hands as she waits in a distanced line to get tested for COVID-19 at a mobile diagnostic tent in San Gregorio Atlapulco in the Xochimilco district of Mexico City, Wednesday, July 22, 2020. The capital’s health secretariat has erected mobile testing units in the areas of the city hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but with test supplies limited – on Wednesday only 20 were available in San Gregorio Atlapulco – some symptomatic people end up waiting in line on multiple days before successfully getting a test. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s anti-monopoly commission says it is looking into possible price-fixing or monopolistic practices in the market for medical oxygen, after pharmacies reported a spike in prices and difficulties in getting tanks and refills.

Prices for oxygen tanks have reportedly tripled since the pandemic hit Mexico in March. An official at a Mexican pharmacy association said Thursday that “what little we could hold of went by 200%” in price. But he questions whether anything illicit was involved, saying demand for oxygen shot up.

The Federal Economic Competition Commission says that if any violations are found, companies that engage in unfair practices could face fines of up to 8% of annual revenues.

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