Free condoms handed out by the NYC health department have found their way to Dominican Republic stores. Credit: David Sim/FlickrCC
According to a bombshell exclusive in the New York Daily News, taxpayer-funded condoms, handed out for free in New York City, are being sold illegally for profit in the Caribbean. The city funds a $5.7 million sexual health program, allowing the New York City Health Department to give away 38 million NYC Condoms a year.
The program is aimed at preventing unwanted pregnancies and tackling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
But it was claimed today that the chic-looking NYC Condom, which comes in an assortment of varieties including extra large and ribbed, is being openly smuggled out of the city and sold for cash in the Dominican Republic.
Health department officials acknowledged they have caught some businesses shipping the free condoms out of the country, the Daily News reported.
The NYC condoms, clearly stamped “Not for Resale,” are sold for about 50 cents – undercutting the major brands such as Durex by more than half.
City Councilman Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), chairman of the Health Committee, said: “These are supposed to be free for New Yorkers. We should ensure that no one is taking condoms from places in New York City where they are needed and selling them for profit out of the country.”
The NYC condoms are officially distributed by the Health Department to 3,500 nonprofit groups and businesses, including bars, restaurants, nail salons, barbershops and hospitals, for free distribution.
But at least five businesses have been axed from the program since it began in 2007 – at least one of them for shipping the free condoms to the Dominican Republic, it was reported.
A recent study from international market researcher Euromonitor International also backed the claims, saying: “The NYC brand is intended for free distribution to high-risk populations in New York City and is increasingly smuggled into the Dominican Republic and resold illegally.”
A health department spokeswoman played down the scale of the problem and said: “We estimate that the lost condoms are a very small percentage of overall distribution.”
The city has a pair of five-year contracts with condom maker Ansell, at a total cost of $5.7 million, to manufacture the condoms, according to the Daily News.