By Liz White, UT staff
Baltimore, Maryland--The Female Health Co. has developed a second-generation FC2 Female Condom for the non-US market, made of nitrile latex, rather than the polyurethane used for the original device.
The new option " will be made available to developing countries at significantly reduced pricing when purchased in large volumes," claimed Mary Ann Leeper, president and coo of Chicago-based FHC.
In large volumes-"equal to only about 3 percent of the estimated male condom market-FC2 can be made available for as little as 22 cents per unit, dramatically improving its affordability," stressed Leeper. FC1 currently sells for 72 cents per unit, a price which FHC says does not change significantly even when purchased in large volumes because the costs associated with the process are not as sensitive to volume.
Nitrile rubber is a synthetic material which looks and performs in a statistically similar manner to FHC's polyurethane version -FC1, according to FHC. At a summit on use and availability of condoms for women, Leeper challenged the global public sector to form a collective to ensure that FC2 is made available at the lowest possible price.
Leeper also presented findings of a study by Dr David Holtgrave, chair of the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. The study looked only on Brazil and South Africa. Its findings were that even at low levels of use, more than 2000 HIV infections would be prevented and about $1.4 million in healthcare costs saved in one year. At high levels of use, FC2 could prevent as many as 32 000 HIV infections, saving as much as $66.9 million in HIV-related healthcare costs a year.
"Changes in the material for FC2 permits use of a manufacturing process that results in reduced cost as volume increases. This offers the Female Health Co. the opportunity to dramatically lower the price of FC2," Leeper said. "The price of FC1 has meant that some HIV prevention programmes cannot incorporate FC1 fully into a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy," Leeper said.
FHC says this is "the only FDA approved female-initiated barrier device that is intended for women to protect themselves from HIV, other STDs and unintended pregnancies." "