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Coronavirus crisis: N95 mask prices surge 250% in 4 months, no govt cap yet

The masks were bought by the government at Rs 12.25 a piece including taxes in September last year, which went on to cost Rs 17.33 in January 2020, Rs 42 by March 31 (2020), and up to Rs 63 by the middle of May (2020)

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | June 10, 2020 | Updated 10:22 IST
Coronavirus crisis: N95 mask prices surge 250% in 4 months, no govt cap yet
The NPPA on June 3 came out with a list of MRPs of N95 masks produced by domestic businesses ranging from Rs 95 to Rs 165 as reduced prices

The price of N95 respirator masks bought by government agencies in September has shot up over 250% in four months from September 2019 till the middle of May 2020, yet the price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has decided not to put a price ceiling on the same saying it "may disincentivise domestic manufacturing."

The masks were bought by the government at Rs 12.25 apiece, including taxes in September last year, which went on to cost Rs 17.33 in January 2020, Rs 42 by March 31 (2020), and up to Rs 63 by the middle of May (2020), according to a report in The Times of India.

Also Read: Coronavirus news: N-95 mask prices fall 47% after NPPA advisory

On the contrary, the NPPA on June 3 came out with a list of maximum retail prices (MRP) of N95 respirators produced by domestic businesses ranging from Rs 95 to Rs 165 as reduced prices. The reduced MRPs are infact 450-850% higher than the January (2020) price shelled out by a government body.

The MRP list, according to the news report, was for N95 masks of four producers comprising Magnum and Venus Safety, which are the two largest Indian manufacturers.

NPPA claimed prices had been reduced after its May 21 memorandum "advising" producers/suppliers/importers "to maintain parity in the price for nongovernment procurements and to make available the same at reasonable prices."

Also Read: Coronavirus update: India ramps up production, over 3 lakh PPEs, N95 masks made daily

Although the NPPA claimed that the prices have been brought down significantly by 47%, the price of only one N95 mask has been reduced by 47%. A majority of other respirators' prices came down by 23-41%. The Centre has purchased 1.15 crore N95 masks so far, mostly from Venus Safety through its procurement agency HLL Lifecare, and nearly a crore of them are to be delivered.

HLL Lifecare has been procuring the masks for Rs 60 plus taxes, an increase of Rs 20, which would cost the government crores of rupees extra, the report stated.

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