Government of India has notified N-95 Masks as an essential commodity under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 vide Notification dated March 13, 2020. Thus, hoarding, black-marketing of the essential commodity is now 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
The move has come in the wake of grievances pouring in regarding hoarding, black-marketing and differential higher pricing of N-95 Masks in the country. In this context, NPPA has directed State Drug Controllers, Food & Drug Administrations of all States and UT Governments to take appropriate actions besides asked 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 vide Orders dated 13th March 2020.
A PIL has also been filed before the High Court of Bombay on the plea of bringing price cap on the N-95 Masks by the Government following which the NPPA intervened to bring down the prices. 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 and suppliers of the N-95 Masks to maintain parity in prices for non-government procurements and to make available the same at reasonable prices. Further, NPPA submitted to the High Court that it would bring a price cap on the N-95 Masks and balance the demand-supply of N-95 Masks in the country.
After the advisory, major manufacturers and importers of N-95 Masks have reduced their prices significantly up to 47%. It expected that other manufacturers and importers will follow the suit voluntarily.