NPPA panel suggests different price caps for basic and ‘exotic’ condoms
New Delhi: An expert committee set up by India’s drug pricing regulator, The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), has recommended that condoms with features such as “exotic flavours”, “texture” etc., merit a differential price from that of basic utility condoms which are made with natural rubber latex and lubrication.
“The committee deliberated the issue in detail and decided that the ceiling price of condom will be fixed in two broad categories i.e ordinary condoms and condoms with special features,” said the minutes of the meeting held by NPPA in November this year. Mint has reviewed the minutes of the meeting.
According to one of the committee’s experts who did not wish to be named, the panel came to the conclusion of differential prices based on the different parameters. “We used a simple philosophy—those which are made of latex and lubricated are essential. On the other hand those which are designed to increase excitement and sensation, providing sensory stimulation, and have flavours should be categorized separately and amounts to separate pricing.”
Condoms have been part of the National List of Essential Medicines from 2003. Subsequently, it was incorporated in the schedule 1 of the Drug Price Control Order 2012 as per the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy (NPPP), allowing the regulator to cap its price. In November 2013, NPPA capped condom prices at Rs6.56 each and this was later increased to Rs8.04 in July 2014. The regulator’s decision to cap the prices was, however, challenged by companies in the high court.
Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Durex condoms, and J.K. Ansell, which owns the KamaSutra brand, challenged the NPPA’s order, contending that condoms were not drugs but devices and therefore could not be included in the DPCO of 2013. The two pharma firms had claimed theirs’ were luxury products “meant for pleasure” and had sought clarification on whether the current ceiling would apply only to utility condoms. While the matter is pending in the Supreme Court, the NPPA constituted an expert committee, which has come out with its report recently.
Earlier in March this year the NPPA had also asked condom makers to provide it with details of prices to retailers. The manufacturers were also asked to submit a price list along with supporting documents such as invoices to retailer and samples of August 2015.
Condom makers are however not excited over the committee’s report. “Pleasure condoms are different and attract a different clientele. Capping prices of basic utility condoms is a fine decision but deciding on the ceiling price of pleasure condoms is not a good idea. Their quality parameters are different hence there should not be any ceiling price fixed on them,” said a senior official from Mankind Pharma that makes premium brand Manforce.
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