UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — An Upper East Side pharmacy is facing stiff fines as New York City attempts to crack down on "repeat offenders" who raise prices on high-demand items as new coronavirus spreads in the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio's office announced.
Lexington Avenue store Metro Drugs received 23 price gouging complaints with the city Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for raising prices on face masks as high as $200, city officials said. The city will seek $37,500 in fines against the business in a case heard before the city Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.
"We have zero tolerance for this behavior in New York City," de Blasio said in a statement. "Any company who tries to take advantage of New Yorkers during this crisis will have their feet held to the fire. My message: just don’t do it."
Metro Drugs is one of several businesses that the city will be seeking fines against for repeat price gouging offenses, city officials said. Officials did not reveal names of the other businesses in the city's announcement this week.
The city Department of Consumer and Worker Protection is actively investigating stores that receive complaints for raising prices on items such as disinfectants, soap, cleaning products, diagnostic products and services, medicines, tissues and protective equipment. The department has received more than 4,000 complaints, resulting in more than 1,000 fines since March 5.
New Yorkers can report businesses for price gouging by calling 311 or visiting the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection's website.
"We will prosecute businesses using this public health crisis to take advantage of New Yorkers who are concerned for their health and we urge consumers to file a complaint if they are overcharged," DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas said in a statement.