The number of medical masks sold at Target stores fell 6 percent last year, but the company said sales at pharmacies have continued to rise.
According to a survey by pharmacy consulting firm Mercer, the total sales of medical mask products at Target pharmacies rose by a mere 3 percent in the year ended March 31.
However, Mercer said sales of generic masks, which are typically available at pharmacies and medical supply stores, rose by 11 percent.
The sales figures, released Friday, came a day after the company reported that its annual sales for the year rose by 5.3 percent.
Target has long been criticized for not doing enough to combat counterfeit drugs and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly warned retailers that they should be on the lookout for counterfeit products.
Target said in a statement that sales of the generic masks it markets for use in the U .
S. rose 3 percent last fiscal year and its sales of branded masks increased by 4.4 percent.
The company said its stores are stocked with the most generic and branded masks available, and it said it is expanding distribution of those masks.
“We have been committed to providing our customers with the best possible products, which includes offering the widest selection of masks at the lowest prices,” the company wrote in a press release.
It said its pharmacy network has seen a decline in the amount of counterfeit masks found at its stores, but it added that it continues to investigate reports of counterfeit products that may have been sold.
In an effort to counter the threat of counterfeit medicines, Target is partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration to combat the growing market for counterfeit masks, including its own branded and generic products.
The U.K.-based drugmaker said it will invest up to $1 billion in research and development to make its masks more secure and will be offering its own tests for people using masks to detect counterfeit medicines.
Last year, the company announced a $5 million gift to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a federal agency that promotes research and clinical development for medicines.
Target also announced a partnership with the National Vaccine Information Center, a nonprofit group that provides information to health care providers about the development of vaccines.