NPPA says its actions reduced prices of N-95 masks by 47%, denies media reports

As per the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), its advisory and subsequent actions have led to the reduction of prices of N-95 mask prices significantly up to 47% by manufacturers and importers, increasing their availability and affordability

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New Delhi: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers has denied the recent media reports that cited the difference between government procurement rates for N-95 face masks and their selling prices.

As per a statement issued by NPPA on 25th May, the news item that appeared in the Times of India previous day alleging that NPPA approvingly cited a price that is more than three times the government procurement rate for the masks is untrue. “The government procurement rate quoted in the news clipping is fallacious, deceptive and misleading,” it said.

NPPA claims that its advisory has led to the reduction of prices of N-95 mask prices significantly up to 47% by manufacturers and importers, leading to their availability in the country at affordable prices. Acting on the grievances regarding hoarding, black-marketing, and differential higher pricing of N-95 Masks in the country, NPPA directed State Drug Controllers and Food & Drug Administrations of all State/ UT governments to take appropriate actions. Subsequently, many raids were conducted by few SDCs/ FDAs, and appropriate action is being taken against the hoarders and black-marketers of the essential commodity.

“The government is striving to ensure an uninterrupted supply of N-95 Masks in adequate quantity in the country. For this, the government is procuring the largest chunk of the N-95 Masks directly from the manufacturers, importers and suppliers at bulk rates. To address the issue of higher prices of the N-95 masks, NPPA intervened to bring down the prices. In this regard, in order to ensure availability of N-95 masks at affordable prices in the country, NPPA issued an Advisory on 21st May 2020 to all the manufacturers, importers, suppliers of the N-95 Masks to maintain parity in prices for non-government procurements and to make available the same at reasonable prices,” the statement said.

In response to the PIL filed before the High Court of Bombay to bring price cap on the N-95 Masks by the government, NPPA submitted that it is looking into the mismatch in the demand-supply of N-95 Masks in the country and advised manufacturers, importers, suppliers to bring down the prices voluntarily.

Earlier in a notification issued on 13th March 2020, the government has notified N-95 Masks as an essential commodity under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Thus, hoarding, black-marketing of the essential commodity is a punishable offence under the Act. To keep a check on the hoarding, black-marketing of the essential commodity, NPPA in the exercise of the powers conferred under National Disaster Management Act, 2005 had directed all States/ UT Governments to ensure sufficient availability of surgical and protective Masks, Hand Sanitizers and Gloves at prices not exceeding the Maximum Retail Price printed on the pack size