The N95 masks have been notified as an essential commodity by the Centre under Essential Commodities Act, 1955 on March 13, 2020.
Hoarding, black-marketing of the essential commodity is a punishable offence under the Act.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) issued an advisory to keep a check on the hoarding of the essential commodity.
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The NPPA 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.
Grievances have been received regarding hoarding, black-marketing and differential higher pricing of N95 masks in the country.
In this context, NPPA has directed State Drug Controllers/Food & Drug Administrations of all State/ UT Governments to take appropriate actions.
As reported, raids have been conducted by few SDCs/ FDAs and appropriate action is being taken against the hoarders and black-marketers of the essential commodity.
A PIL has also been filed before the High Court of Bombay on the plea of bringing price cap on the N95 masks by the Government.
The Centre is striving to ensure the uninterrupted supply of the masks in adequate quantity in the country.
For this, the Centre is procuring largest chunk of these masks directly from the manufacturers/ importers/ suppliers at bulk rates.
To address the issue of higher prices of these face masks, NPPA intervened to bring down the prices.
In this regard, in order to ensure availability of N95 masks at affordable prices in the country, NPPA issued an Advisory on May 21 to all the manufacturers/ importers/ suppliers of the N95 masks to maintain parity in prices for non-government procurements and to make available the same at reasonable prices.
Further, NPPA submitted before the High Court of Bombay on the plea of bringing price cap on the N95 masks that looking to the mismatch in the demand-supply in the country, NPPA advised manufacturers/ importers/ suppliers to bring down the prices voluntarily.
After issuing such an advisory, major manufacturers/ importers of N95 masks have reduced their prices significantly up to 47 per cent.
Now, these masks are available in the country at affordable prices.
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