Coronavirus: Bottle of Calpol sold for £20 after panic-buying shortages

A bottle of Calpol was marked up to £20 at a city pharmacy in the middle of dramatic price hikes reported across Birmingham due to the the coronavirus outbreak.

City councillor, Majid Mahmood, wrote furiously on Twitter calling out the pharmacy which resides in his ward in Bromford and Hodge Hill, one of the poorest parts of the city.

In a tweet he wrote: "Really disappointed that a local @JhootsPharmacy in my ward is charging extortionate prices for paracetamol and calpol."

The bottle which is normally retails for around £3.99 is a paracetamol bases suspension for young children.

But in the middle of shortages due to panic-buying, where customers are stockpiling food and products in fear of a lockdown, prices have increased.

The smaller 100ml bottle is on the shelf for £9.99, reports Birmingham Live.

At the same chemist's a box of 32 paracetamol tablets, normally costing £1.39, is on sale for £9.99.

It is a branch of Jhoots Pharmacy, a Walsall-based company with more than 100 branches across the country. The firm said it was investigating.

Councillor Mahmood said he was appalled to see a community pharmacy charging such high prices during a critical time of national crisis.

He said: "Just last week it was charging £1.39 for 32 paracetamol and today it is £9.99. Not good for a community pharmacy putting profits before people #COVID2019."

The message sparked an instant reaction and was retweeted and shared widely – sparking this response from Twitter user @emmawhizz, who wrote: "A local independent chemist (that I have supported because they are an independent business) is selling 100ml Calpol for £10, 200ml for £20 and I can't even… then an angry face.

She adds: "This chemist happens to be in one of the most deprived areas of Birmingham, which is something like the 3rd most deprived area in England, but yeah, let's get parents paying £20 for liquid paracetamol. Or when they shoplift it, come down heavy handed on them."

Bromford and Hodge Hill ward is in the Labour MP Liam Byrne's constituency of Hodge Hill, which is indeed one of the most deprived areas in the whole country.

Late yesterday evening there was this response on Twitter from Jhoots Pharmacy : "It has come to our attention that some branches have increased their prices, we are currently investigating the matter. Meanwhile our staff are working hard to serve our communities during difficult times and putting on extra provision for free deliveries."

Among those who responded to the original tweet was a shopper in Bath who posted a receipt from another Jhoots Pharmacy branch showing a box of 32 paracetamol there had also cost £9.99 – suggesting the price upgrades were more universal than a single branch.

Amid the stockpiling crisis, some supermarkets are doing all they can to try to prevent shoppers from ransacking stores.

This includes limiting specific times for key workers and the most vulnerable to do their shopping in peace – as well as limiting how many products individuals can buy.

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