Demand for mosquito repellents, particularly for personal use, is spiralling as panic-stricken people rush to buy protectors from Aedes mosquito, which has bitten the highest number of people in 18 years thus far.
Salespersons at corner shops and medicines stores said the demand for mosquito repellents surged in the past fortnight in the face of Aedes mosquito-borne dengue outbreak and shortage of hospital beds in Dhaka city to accommodate the patients.
Subsequently, the prices of mosquito repellent creams have shot up, compelling buyers to pay more.
Odomos is one of such ointments, which comes in 100 gram tubes and normally costs less than Tk 200.
But in recent days its price has escalated to Tk 300, with some medicine stores in Dhaka’s Panthapath area demanding as much as Tk 340 claiming supply shortage.
A product of Indian fast-moving consumer goods manufacturer Dabur, Odomos uses a formula that masks the distinctive body odour that human skin emits, making one virtually invisible to mosquitoes.
It does not kill or knock down mosquitoes using deadly chemicals like other insect repellents. Applying Odomos on one’s skin protects one from mosquito bites for up to 8 hours.
Dabur is yet to get permission from the respective government agency to import the repellent and market it here officially, said an official of Asian Consumer Care that distributes Dabur products here.
The ointment is brought illegally by traders from abroad and supplied to medicine stores, according to salespersons at drug stores.
“We have no stock of the cream since Sunday -- there is a shortage in the market,” said Anwar Hossain, general manager of Lazz Pharma, a drug retail chain.
At midday yesterday, salesmen of Lazz Pharma’s Panthapath branch said they had sold all 100 units of Odomos they had on them. They said they might get supply but the prices would be more than Tk 300.
Md Farid Uddin, proprietor of Lopa Medicine Corner at Panthapath, said he sold the mosquito repellent for Tk 220 as recently as Saturday.
“Today, when I went to the DCC market in Gulshan to get more supply, I found the cream was selling at Tk 260 to Tk 270,” he added.
None of the local firms make mosquito repellent creams but local Purnava makes a spray for personal use that has the same effect as Odomas.
Purnava has not hiked the price of its mosquito repellent spray -- which contains a blend of citronella, eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil -- although the demand for its repellent more than doubled to 3,800 unit this month, said Imran Kaisar, product manager of Purnava.
“The surge in demand was beyond our expectations,” he said, adding the company is considering increasing its production.
Mosquito repellents for personal use have got high popularity as the sprays used by the government agencies and city corporations are not effective in destroying mosquitos and their larvae, Kaisar added.
Subsequently, the demand for other mosquito prevention products such as mosquito-repellent coils and sprays and anti-mosquito rackets have also increased.
The prices of mosquito coils and sprays have not risen despite the spike in demand, said Faruque Hossain, a salesman at a corner shop in Jafrabad.
Previously, the average daily sales of mosquito repellents, including sprays, would be at best 20 units in Lazz Pharma’s main branch at Rasel Square.
“That has now gone past 100,” Hossain said, adding that repellents for personal use account for the majority of the demand because of their added protection.
Syed Alamgir, managing director of consumer brands of ACI, however, said the demand for its commonly used anti-mosquito spray has not increased to that extent.