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EBM News

Pulse oximeters fly off pharmacy shelves in Madurai

MADURAI: Masks and hand sanitisers apart, pulse oximeters are also in huge demand as the people are making a beeline for the device in these trying times of Covid-19.

The huge demand for the non-invasive device that helps monitor oxygen saturation level has made the pharmacies in the district to stock up on it.

A pharmacist, working in a retail pharmacy chain in Goripalayam said that before the Covid-19 outbreak, the device was solely used in hospitals and clinics. “The demand for the pulse oximeter that helps in checking SpO2 level saw a surge of late, and as a result, the device went out of stock in many shops, leading to a rise in its price. While an average of 15 pulse oximeters were sold every month until COVID-19 outbreak, around 300 devices are being sold in a month now.”

Meanwhile, another pharmacist working in a retail pharmacy chain in K Pudur said, “Our pharmacy has never sold pulse-oximeters since the need was restricted only to hospitals. Post COVID-19 outbreak, we receive at least 10-15 requests a day for the device.” Starting next week, the device would be sold at our pharmacy, she added.

A drug stockist attached to a leading pharmacy chain in the city said, “A pulse oximeter is generally priced between Rs 1500 and Rs 3500. The devices are usually procured from branded companies that have supply agencies in Madurai, Chennai, Bengaluru or New Delhi. Now, China made devices are also available in the market.”

While buying a pulse oximeter, it is essential to look for warranty and guarantee (six months or one year) and to verify the accuracy of the reading. Usually, the Chinese products or the devices that are bought online do not have warranty, she cautioned.

District President of Chemists and Druggists Association G Ganesan said that earlier the device was available with only around 10 stockists in the city. “With the rise in demand, all the pharmacies have now stocked the device. However, a majority of the customers are those from upper middle class. Affordability and lack of awareness are the key reasons for pulse-oximeters not reaching the poor,” he added.

Meanwhile, City Health Officer Dr P Kumaragurubaran said that around 600 pulse oximeters are available with Madurai Corporation and are being used during door-to-door fever surveillance and at fever camps. “We will soon start screening corporation’s cleanliness workers and urban health nurses using pulse-oximeter daily when they report to work,” he added.