Centre launches biodegradable sanitary pad at Rs 2.50

Centre launches biodegradable sanitary pad at Rs 2.50

The Centre on Thursday promised to release a new brand of low-cost biodegradable sanitary pads that would be sold through the government's Jan Aushadhi (People's Medicine) stores from May end.

To be branded as Suvidha, a pack of four of these biodegradable sanitary pads would cost Rs 10, which means Rs 2.5 apiece.

In comparison, the three major commercial sanitary napkins being sold under the brand name of Stayfree, Carefree and Whisper ultra cost Rs 5.83, Rs 7.25 and Rs 8 apiece respectively.

The new pads - to be made available in both biodegradable and non-biodegradable forms - would be sold through a network of nearly 3,200 Jan Aushadhi stores that sell generic drugs. The non-biodegradable one would be a bit more expensive costing Rs 3.25 apiece.

Indian sanitary napkin market is dominated by two multinational companies - Procter and Gamble, and Johnson and Johnson.

"When launched, our product may have an impact on the prices of other sanitary pads in the market," Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertiliser Ananth Kumar said here after unveiling the scheme, piloted by the department of pharmaceuticals that comes under his ministry.

The sanitary napkin market in India is worth Rs 2,900 crore. But the growth potential is much more because almost 88% Indian women don't use the pads.

The department hasn't floated a tender so far to identify the manufacturers, and yet hopes to launch the product before May 28, which is celebrated as the World Hygiene Day.

"We hope to launch the commercial product by May 28 (World Hygiene Day). We will ask the manufacturers to maintain the World Health Organisation Good Manufacturing Practice (WHO GMP) standard," Biplab Chatterjee, chief executive officer of the Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India, told DH.

One in five girls in India drops out of the school because of the social issues associated with periods. Lakhs use cloth and other materials that are hazardous and pose serious health risks. According to a BPPI estimate, only 12% of 355 million menstruating women use the pads.

Almost seven years ago, the Union health ministry launched a scheme of distributing "Freedays" brand of sanitary napkin (costing Rs 6 for a pack of six) in 100 plus districts. The scheme, sources told DH, failed miserably because of the poor quality of the pads.

Poor menstrual hygiene can cause fungal infections, reproductive tract infection, urinary tract infection, cervical cancer and also make women vulnerable to infertility. Disposable pads being the cheapest and most readily available product, its use is being promoted.


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