US Condom Maker in Peril as Feds Buy Chinese

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2009 5:25 PM CDT
USAID supplies.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The sole supplier of condoms to Washington's overseas AIDS campaign is likely going out of business thanks to Asian competition, the Kansas City Star reports. The feds are close to signing contracts with companies in South Korea and China, which charge 2 cents per condom; Alabama-based Alatech charges five. Three hundred American jobs hang in the balance.

Alatech claims USAID implied it would continue to buy American. But a recent appropriations bill did not include a “Buy American” clause, and the agency conducted its business through a middleman, protecting the government from a bid protest. Alatech protested anyway, and is considering a lawsuit. What's more, Chinese condoms are “notoriously suspect,” one consultant said.