1 in 20 condoms broke, leaked during testing | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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1 in 20 condoms broke, leaked during testing

Hindustan Times, Mumbai | BySadaguru Pandit
Jun 07, 2019 02:08 AM IST

Condoms were added to the list of medical devices in May 2018 and are therefore mandated to undergo frequent, random testing by a laboratory accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) to prove their medical efficacy.

One out of every 20 condoms broke or leaked when tested by the government-run Central Drugs Testing Laboratory (CDTL).

In its reply CDTL said of the 411 sample condoms tested between June 2018 to April 2019, 22 failed the test.(Shutterstock)
In its reply CDTL said of the 411 sample condoms tested between June 2018 to April 2019, 22 failed the test.(Shutterstock)

A query filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed that 5.23% of the sample set of condoms tested between June 2018 and April 2019 failed to clear standard parameters.

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Condoms were added to the list of medical devices in May 2018 and are therefore mandated to undergo frequent, random testing by a laboratory accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) to prove their medical efficacy.

This data was provided in response to an RTI application filed by a Mumbai-based doctor, who requested anonymity. “As per my interaction with patients of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, the majority claim to use using contraceptives like condoms and so I felt the need to check if the quality measures are in place to ensure that the contraceptive offers no possibility of transmission of diseases or sperms,” said the doctor.

CDTL refused to comment independently on the issue.

In its reply CDTL said of the 411 sample condoms tested between June 2018 to April 2019, 22 failed the test. Causes of failure included burst volume (the point when the condom bursts after being filled with air) and water leakage. Condoms with low burst volume are more likely to break during usage. The CDTL did not specify which brands were tested. The tests were conducted in the Chennai branch of CDTL.

Although the percentage of failure is low, medical experts said that there are causes for concern.

“Our major concern is that usage of condoms is not as common in India due to social taboos and discussing quality might dissuade people from using them in the first place. There is a rate of error in any scientific method of contraceptive, but at the same time there is enough medical literature to prove that condoms are a fool-proof method of birth control and prevention of diseases,” said Dr V Sam Prasad, of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The doctor who filed the RTI application pointed out that condoms are considered “the front line defence mechanism”. “We need stringent quality control measures, open discussions about margin of error and limit exposure to multiple partners or sex-workers to reduce possibilities of infection transmission,” said the doctor.

HIV-tuberculosis survivor and activist Ganesh Acharya said that the government needs to address these findings by improving the quality of condoms. “If anybody says the error margin is accepted then they are trying to escape accountability for putting measures for population control and spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” said Acharya.

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