Regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) will meet stent manufacturers next week to discuss issues like pricing and availability of the medical device.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) also said it has so far received complaints against 24 hospitals for overcharging on stents, out of which nine have been issued show cause notices.
It added that non compliance with its instructions on stent prices may lead to prosecution.
In a notification, the NPPA said it has called for a meeting with stent makers on March 7 “to discuss issues related to availability of stents and monitoring of ceiling prices and other issues”.
The regulator has been monitoring the situation ever since it announced price cap on stents on February 14. It has asked manufacturers, importers, distributors and hospitals to ensure availability at the revised prices.
“Total 24 complaints of overcharging on stents, nine hospitals issued show cause notices, copy of bills awaited in other cases,” the NPPA said in a tweet.
It said in overcharging cases, the name of the concerned stent companies can be ascertained only after receiving replies from hospitals.
“The 24 hospitals under scrutiny are also accountable on not mentioning the name of the company, brand and specifications of stents billed,” the regulator added.
So far in the complaints received, it has been observed from the bill copies that “hospitals are not complying” with instructions specified in its price cap order, it said.
“This a serious non-compliance of government orders,” the NPPA said, adding “non-compliance of these instructions shall now be treated as deliberated distortion of evidence along with charges of overpricing. Such cases may also be taken up prosecution under EC Act”.
The NPPA also warned the hospitals “that non compliance with its instructions on stent prices may lead to prosecution.”
The hospitals against which complaints have been received include Max Hospital in Saket, New Delhi, Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, Metro Hospital in Faridabad, PGI Hospital Chandigarh and Bharat Heart Institute in Dehradun, among others.
Max Healthcare and Lilavati have denied overcharging patients for stents and insisted they were complying with NPPA guidelines.
The regulator said hospitals, nursing homes and clinics utilising stents shall specifically and separately mention the cost of the stent along with its brand, name of the manufacturer, importer, batch number and other details in their billing.
In a major relief to lakhs of cardiac patients, the NPPA had slashed prices of life-saving coronary stents by up to 85 per cent by capping them at Rs 7,260 for bare metal ones and Rs 29,600 for drug eluting variety.