Major manufacturers and importers have slashed prices N-95 mask prices, by up to 47 per after National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)  stepped in to ensure its availability at affordable rates in the country, the government said on Monday.

N-95 Mask is a respiratory protective device capable of filtering airborne particles including coronavirus

N-95 masks were earlier being sold in the market for 150 to 300 per unit and after the advisory by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), prices have been cut. 

To address the issue of higher prices of the N-95 masks, the NPPA intervened to ensure their availability at affordable prices in the country, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers said in a statement on Monday.

“NPPA issued an advisory on May 21, 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,” it added.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the central government had notified N-95 masks as an essential commodity under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 on March 13, 2020. As a result, its hoarding and black-marketing is a punishable offense under the Act.

In a bid to keep a check on hoarding and black-marketing of N-95 masks, NPPA had directed all states and union territories in the exercise of powers conferred under National Disaster Management Act, 2005 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, the ministry said.

On grievances regarding black-marketing of N-95 Masks, the NPPA has directed State Drug Controllers and Food & Drug Administrations (FDA) of all state governments to take appropriate action.

The NPPA has also submitted before the Bombay High Court on the plea on bringing price cap on the protective device that it is looking at mismatch in the demand-supply of N-95 masks in the country and has advised manufacturers, importers and suppliers to cut prices voluntarily, the statement said.

“After issuing such an advisory, major manufacturers/ importers of N-95 masks have reduced their prices significantly up to 47 percent leading to availability of N-95 masks in the country at affordable prices,” it added.

As reported by other manufacturers and importers of N-95 masks, it is expected that they will also follow the advice of the government and roll down the prices in the larger public interest, the statement said. 

“Government is striving to ensure 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/ suppliers at bulk rates,” the statement said.