Coronary Stents Set to be Cheaper by About .₹ 1 Lakh
After Tuesday’s price cap order, stents may cost in the range of .₹ 7,623 to .₹ 31,080
New Delhi: Heart patients who require coronary stents stand to get an average benefit of close to ₹ 1 lakh after the country’s drug pricing authority on Tuesday fixed a cap on stent prices, chemicals and fertilisers minister Ananth Kumar has said. The move, which has upset domestic and multinational stent makers alike, would encourage companies to make in India to cut costs, the minister said.
Earlier in the day, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) slashed prices of coronary stents by over 75%, capping the ceiling prices of drug eluting stents (DES) and bioresorbable vascular scaffolds (BVS) at ₹ 29,600, and bare metal stents (BMS) at ₹ 7,260. Including VAT, these stents are expected to cost ₹ 31,080 and ₹ 7,623, respectively.
A coronary stent is a wire mesh tube used to clear blockages in the arteries and prevent heart attacks.
The ceiling prices notified by the body are applicable to manufacturers, distributors and hospitals billing patients for stents effective February 14, according to NPPA’s notification. It has also made it mandatory for hospitals to bill cardiac stents separately from the procedure package billed to patients.
The regulator claimed that “huge” and “unethical” markups were charged on the devices throughout the supply chain.
The minister claimed these stents “were being sold with a 400% profit margin”. Over 90% of stents implanted in India are DES, sold at an average price of ₹ 1.21 lakh, while BMS are sold at an average price of ₹ 45,095, he said.
Kumar claimed that the price caps have been fixed after taking into account manufacturing, R&D and marketing costs as well as “ethical” profit.
The Stent Business
were sold with a
Drug eluting 29,600
Stent manufacturers, however, said the move will kill the industry by discouraging companies to innovate and bring in new technologies into this space.
The number of stent procedures in India has trebled over the last five years and close to five lakh stents were implanted in over 3.5 lakh procedures in 2015, according to National Interventional Council (NIC) registry.Global companies said clubbing all DES and BVS into one category disregards technological differences among these stents and would deter stent makers from launching further innovations in this space.
“The singular focus on controlling ceiling price of stents without attempting to address the larger picture and correct inefficiencies in the healthcare ecosystem will not achieve its stated benefit in the long run,” said a spokesperson from AdvaMed—a lobby group for multinational stent makers like Abbott India, Medtronic and Boston Scientific.
The person also warned that lack of access to the latest generation of stents may force patients to go to other countries for treatment.
There is a clear difference between different types of stents and their benefits and the government should have taken this categorisation into consideration, the AdvaMed spokesperson said.
NPPA said clinical superiority of most new generation stents is not proven.Domestic stent manufacturers said the ceiling prices of stents have been fixed too low for Indian companies to step in and meet the growing demand. “This move may appear populist but will ultimately kill the ecosystem where Indian manufacturers shall keep manufacturing low end technologies,” said Gurmeet Chugh, managing director of Translumina Therapeutics, an Indian stent company.
He added that the pricing regulation has not taken into account.