To ensure the availability of N-95 masks at the revised MRPs as per price control compliance, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has issued a list of price reduction in N-95 masks by four major N-95 mask manufacturers, namely Venus Safety and Health Pvt Ltd, Magnum Health and Safety, Yash Care Life Sciences and Joseph Leslie & Co.
The national drug price regulator has now shared the revised MRPs reported by these manufacturers of N-95 masks with the state drug controllers (SDCs). The list indicates that the makers of N-95 masks reduced the cost of their products, some even up to 47 per cent, after NPPA issued an advisory on May 21, 2020 recommending manufacturers to voluntarily lower prices. NPPA had also asked manufacturers, importers, suppliers of the N-95 masks to maintain parity in prices for non-government procurement and make them available at the same reasonable prices.
The reported lowered MRPs of various grades of N-95 masks of the four manufacturers ranges from the earlier MRP of Rs. 160 to current Rs. 95, from the earlier Rs. 195 to current Rs. 125, from Rs. 175 to current Rs. 105, from Rs. 225 to current Rs. 135, from Rs. 200 to Rs. 130 and from Rs. 250 to Rs. 165 in case of Venus Safety, from Rs. 175 to current Rs 135 in case of Magnum, from Rs. 238 to Rs. 126 in the case of Yash Care and in case of Joseph Leslie the revised MRP is Rs. 140 from the earlier Rs. 150.
The drug pricing regulator had earlier directed manufacturers, importers and suppliers of N-95 masks to maintain parity in prices for non-government procurements and make available the same at reasonable prices to curb black marketing.
“All SDCs have been directed to refer to the office memorandum (OM) issued by NPPA office wherein/importers/ suppliers of the N-95 masks were advised to maintain parity in prices for non-government procurements and to make available the same at reasonable prices. It is further directed that any instance of hoarding, black marketing and higher pricing of N-95 masks and unethical practices like counterfeit products be viewed seriously and strict action be initiated under the Essential Commodities (EC) Act, 1955,” as per the NPPA order.
The NPPA directive comes in the wake of grievances being received regarding hoarding and black marketing and differential higher pricing of N-95 masks in the country. “In the wake of the prevailing situation due to COVID-19, the government is striving to ensure uninterrupted supply of N-95 in adequate quantity of HCWs. For this government is procuring N-95 masks directly from the manufacturers, importers and suppliers at bulk rates and at ex-factory prices. However it has been noticed that other procurers (non-government entities) are getting N-95 masks at differential prices,” an NPPA order stated.
Maharashtra FDA had on May 15, 2020 also requested NPPA to cap the prices of N-95 masks and PPE kits. It had pointed out that consumers are not aware of the exact MRP of N95 masks and PPEs. Sometimes, the MRP printed by some of the manufacturers is exorbitant and as a result, common public, private doctors, health workers and paramedical staff in private hospitals are forced to pay the said higher printed prices.
As per guidelines issued by the health ministry on May 15, 2020, N-95 masks are also to be used in non-COVID areas of treatment such as ENT clinics, emergency rooms, eye clinics, labour rooms, ambulance transfers etc. This has increased the demand for these masks.
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