Do COVID-19 price gouging laws apply to PPE? | VERIFY

We verify whether the coronavirus price gouging laws set by Arkansas apply to PPE and other medical items.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Five months since the Attorney General announced strict penalties for anyone violating price gouging laws in the state and there are still complaints rolling in. 

One viewer reached out to us about problems medical professionals are facing when it comes to PPE.

The viewer reached out to our Verify team saying, “My sis-in-law works at a dental office and said they used to be able to buy masks for $5.00 a box and now it’s $17. Of course they have a limit each time but the price hike is more than double. It doesn’t seem right for medical/dental.”

Our sources: the Arkansas Attorney General’s office and Arkansas’s Price Gouging Law.

When we reached out to the AG’s spokesperson to ask about price hikes like this still happening, we were told:

“Due to the fact that PPE supplies are in high demand in Arkansas, nationally and globally, the Attorney General’s Office has received complaints from health care providers about the costs of PPE.  We have also worked closely with providers in their discussions with vendors.” 

You may remember the Governor Asa Hutchinson’s emergency declaration made in March. 

It was then Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the state’s price gouging law, where any seller charging more than 10% over the pre-coronavirus price may be in violation. 

This applies to manufacturers and distributors engaging in price gouging to hospitals, pharmacies and medical providers or retail businesses. 

According to Act 376, vendors found in violation of Arkansas’s price-gouging laws can face penalties, including restitution to consumers, fines up to $10,000 per violation or criminal charges.