Dis-Chem will no longer appeal the Competition Tribunal’s decision, which found the pharmacy chain guilty of excessive pricing on its surgical face masks. It will pay the R1.2 million administrative penalty imposed on it.
Dis-Chem says this is despite legal advice stating the likely success of the appeal, given the Competition Act’s requirements.
It says the tribunal’s decision is informed by justifiable anger at recently-exposed procurement abuses in personal protective equipment (PPE) provision, at taxpayers’ expense.
“Dis-Chem is not involved in any of these scandals and, together with the rest of the country, is upset at these developments. It appears, however, that the ongoing appeal on entirely different legal issues could taint Dis-Chem’s reputation by misplaced association,” it says.
Ivan Saltzman, CEO of Dis-Chem, is adamant that the price adjustment of surgical masks in March was “justified” given the increased costs it was facing and its commitment to ensure stock availability.
“We remain confident that we neither overcharged nor broke the law…. It is important to recall that in April 2020, Dis-Chem reduced its mask prices when its costs started reducing, even before the Competition Commission began its investigation.
“As such, we believe that we would have succeeded on appeal. However, we would rather move forward and focus on delivering value to consumers for the products they need, especially during the continued challenging environment.”