New Delhi: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda has formally launched first indigenously developed natural latex-based female condom.
The launch of the female condom seeks to expand the basket of contraceptive choices and reduce unwanted pregnancies, while providing quality healthcare products at affordable cost.
Manufactured by HLL Lifecare Ltd (HLL) under the brand name 'Velvet', the contraceptive was launched yesterday at the two-day National Family Planning Summit, which concluded here today. The conclave had "New Choices, New Horizons" as its theme.
"The female condom provides complete protection and gives women more control over safe sex. It is all about empowering women. It is the only woman-initiated method of contraception that serves a dual protection - prevention of pregnancy and of HIV/AIDS," Nadda said.
"It has the potential to become a game-changer for women through control over their reproductive freedom. It will also go a long way in meeting the unmet contraceptive needs and thus check the burgeoning population of the country," he added.
A unique aspect of this year's event was the "Family Planning Marketplace", which was intended to showcase best practices and innovations in family planning and exhibit the pool of contraceptive options and key programme interventions.
HLL's female condom 'Velvet' recently obtained the World Health Organisation's (WHO) pre-qualification, making it eligible for institutional procurement under donor-funded programmes. Female condoms prevent both pregnancies and infections and give women more control over protection during sex. The product has a shelf life of five years. It is similar to the male condom in both efficacy and reliability.
The new latex version of female condom is designed and developed totally in-house by the scientists of HLL's R&D Centre at Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).
"The objective of HLL's R&D center is to provide men and women the best and affordable reproductive health solutions. Enabling women to make decisions about when to have children will not only reduce unplanned pregnancies but also lead to healthier families and communities," said Dr. M. Ayyappan, CMD, HLL.
'Velvet' was pre-qualified by the WHO and the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) in March this year and HLL is among the four pre-qualified suppliers of female condoms across the globe.
HLL, a Government of India enterprise of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has already filed an Indian patent for the product in Brazil, South Africa and Aripo (African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation) countries. Being the most affordable female condom in the world, it will be the prime supplier of these condoms for the procurements done by the UNFPA.
Acceptability and functionality trials were conducted by HLFPPT in India, and the product successfully passed the international functionality trials conducted by UAFC (Universal Access for Female Condoms) in South Africa. The functional performance of the device tested for the safety and efficacy conformed to the norms.
'Velvet' has been developed and produced by HLL in a world class manufacturing facility with a capacity of 25 million pieces per year. The facility has certifications such as ISO 9001, ISO 13485, ISO 14001 and ISO 18001. It also has product certifications of the European Union (EU) and South Africa.
HLL introduced the first generation female condoms made of polyurethane in India in 2006 under the brand name Confidom. The second generation female condoms made with nitrile rubber were distributed from 2008. With its expertise in natural rubber latex, it began developing the most affordable female condom in 2010. The result is the launch of 'Velvet' female condom.