New Delhi: The government’s decision to include two varieties of tiny wire mesh tubes known as stents into the National List of Essential Medicine(NLEM) has led to a steep drop in the price of these devices. The decision taken was based on the advice of a sub committee of expert cardiologist’s recommendations. Based on expert advice the Health Ministry has added drug-eluting Stents (DES) and bare metal stents (BMS) to the NLEM 2015 list in a notification released.
The decision is supposed to bring relief to cardiology patients burdened by over pricing. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority—is expected to notify the new reset price for these stents after due considerations. The stents in question are sold by multinational corporations in India.
Drug eluting stents in India used in 95 % cases range between Rs 23,625 to Rs 1,50,000 in private hospitals and Rs. 60,000 in government healthcare facilities.Coronary artery disease has attained dimensions of becoming a public health issue in India, giving rise to procedures requiring stent implantation.
According to the National Interventional Council (NIC) registry, 2015 five lakh stents were implanted in last year.The sub committee also brought to notice that besides stent price regulation what is also called for is the cost and quality of other components being regulated, in order to reduce overall costs of surgery.
25% to 40% of total procedural costs in private hospitals are accounted for by coronary stent purchase and this figure rises to 70%-90% in government hospitals.
“Once items get included in the NLEM, the natural consequence is that the price will come down,” a government official told ET, noting that allegations of high profit margins on stents can be curbed with the latest move. “Even private hospitals will not be in a position to charge beyond what is notified by the NPPA eventually,” the official added.
The government’s move has called for mixed reactions from both global and indigenous producers of the product.Criticising the government’s move to control stent prices through their NLEM inclusion, the Confederation of Indian Industry said the move inappropriate, as price capping on these devices would end the conducive environmen texisting for FDI’s
“(The move) is detrimental to the nascent medical device industry committed to improve access to quality healthcare and medical devices in India. The quality of products and clinical outcomes do not seem to have been given a priority,” said the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), the lobby group for global medical device manufacturers like Abbott and Medtronic.
However, the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD), representing indigenous medical device makers, said the move may improve opportunities for Indian stent makers.
According to AiMeD Forum Coordinator Rajiv Nath. the procedural costs for India’s stent making industry have reached a phenomenal high, because the Rs. 1400 crore industry was heavily import based.