The original female condom was relatively expensive. The
Female Health Company (FHC) therefore developed the FC2, a cheaper nitrile rubber version of the polyurethane condom,
and launched the product in October 2005.
In tests conducted at the Reproductive Health Research
Unit in Durban, South Africa, women reported that there was no difference in
performance between the old and new condoms and a third said they could not
tell that they were different at all.
countries in a region come together as a collective and place a large order
[with FHC], this will allow the smallest country to get the best possible
price,” she said.
Initially, the FHC only manufactured
small numbers of the FC2 condom, but
their strategy with this second-generation product was to concentrate initially
on getting the product licensed in low- and middle-income countries, in
accordance with the Global Female Condom Initiative, and then secure large
distribution contracts with national governments and international funders.
The FHC only sought the approval of
the FDA and of the European Patent Office after significant distribution to
poorer countries had already been secured: the FC2 finally achieved FDA approval in October 20091
and European recognition a month later. The price of the FC2 in the USA
was 30% lower than the FC1.
The current maximum price for public
organisations is 82 US cents per unit, going down to 61 cents a unit for very
large orders. The Female Health Company says this is a 30% reduction on the
price of the PC1 condom (see www.fc2femalecondom.com/publicsectorbuying.html).
Typical commercial retailers charge about $1.50 per unit (see, for
received registration by the Indian authorities in September 2006, and the FHC
secured a manufacturing contract with the company Hindustan Latex Ltd. By April
2009 FHC and HLL had secured orders of 1.5 million FC2 condoms by the Indian National AIDS Control Organisation.
An even larger order had been secured in October 2008,
when 4.3 million FC2s were ordered by
the joint Australian/Papua New Guinea HIV and AIDS programme, intended mainly
for Papua New Guinea, which
accounts for 70% of all HIV infections in Australasia.
The New York City Department of Health distributed
900,000 FC1 female condoms in 2008,
and in November 2009 sponsored an education seminar for 200 health educators to
introduce the FC2. Other US health
departments have followed suit in trying to increase awareness and uptake of
the FC2. In March 2010, a coalition
of 20 non-profit HIV and women’s advocacy organisations in Chicago launched an awareness campaign
including a website – www.ringonit.org –
to increase local uptake. And in Washington,
DC, a campaign to promote the FC2 featured posters on a third of the
city’s buses. This city was also the first to allow over-the-counter sales of
city campaigns featured African HIV prevention advocates and co-ordinators
travelling from countries such as Malawi to educate American
providers in its promotion and use. Sandra Mepemba of the UN Population Fund
(UNFPA), who recently led Malawi’s
national transition from the FC1 to
the FC2 condoms, told her New York audience: “The
evidence is clear that when women and men have access to the female condom and
education on its use, it becomes a product they demand.”