A legislative package addressing pandemic-related price gouging sponsored by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic passed the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection on Tuesday, March 29.
Rozic’s bill, A9193A, would triple penalties for instances of fraud in order to deter bad actors. It focuses on fraudulent conduct during an abnormal disruption of the market such as the coronavirus pandemic. Another bill, A5860, sponsored by Rozic’s colleague, Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, would add medications facing supply shortages to the list of goods prohibited from being sold at high prices under the state’s price gouging statute.
The legislative package was reported to the Assembly Codes Committee.
The Federal Trade Commission estimates that New Yorkers have lost approximately $22 million to COVID-related fraud. Rozic’s bill aims to protect New Yorkers subject to such practices and offers them legal recourse.
“No New Yorker should have to deal with fraud and deception — especially during the most vulnerable times,” said Rozic, chair of the Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee. “This legislation would ensure that penalties against bad actors are a sufficient deterrent and will go a long way to protect consumers during this pandemic and beyond.”
According to Reyes, Bill A5860 would protect New Yorkers against predatory actions of the drug industry looking to turn a profit at the expense of those with the most need.
“When our state first faced the uncertainty of the pandemic, price gougers preyed on the fear of shocked consumers,” Reyes said. “Essential items like medicine must be secure against greedy and exploitative businesses that seek to take advantage of needy customers and a shortage. A5860A would protect New Yorkers against predatory actions of the drug industry looking to turn a profit at the expense of those with the most need.”
According to an AP report, a severe shortage in medical equipment needed for chemotherapy, infections and other health concerns has forced some hospitals to rely on medications from secondary suppliers, so-called “gray markets.” Price gouging of medications is a practice that not only threatens the health and wellbeing of patients across the state but also contributes heavily to the drug shortage.