Keeping in mind the forthcoming panchayat elections, the first ever in Mamata Banerjee’s regime, the health department has decided to keep adequate stock of affordable stents in all state-run medical colleges where angioplasty is performed.
The health department led by the chief minister has decided to ask all other teaching hospital authorities and owners of fair-price medicine shops inside these hospitals to procure stents from the SSKM medicine shop at a discounted price.
After opening fair-price shops in different state-run medical colleges and hospitals across the state, the Mamata Banerjee government has decided to sell stents, a vital device for cardiac patients, through these outlets offering a mammoth 67 % discount on the MRP of the life-saving device.Stents are required for patients with coronary artery block, an increasingly common disease these days.
The sale started at the SSKM fair price shop and since Wednesday (June 5), the very first day, more than 10 patients were implanted these ‘affordable’ stents so far. Unfortunately, private hospitals have raised quality concerns over these devices.
With the directive of the health department, the SSKM outlet has already started selling the device manufactured by an Ahmedabad-based company Sahajanand Medical Technologies Pvt Ltd. The devices are priced at R19,000 and R36,000 each while the MRP is R60,000 (chromium-cobalt device) and R1,10,000 (drug eluting device).
Competing products in the market cost around Rs. 1.20-Rs 1.30 lakh. Private sector hospitals almost always use these products.“We have given standing instructions to cardiologists at SSKM to advice patients stents which are available at cheaper rates at the fair-price shop. If patients want, they can buy the costly ones also. The chief minister has also decided to keep adequate stock of such cheap stents in outlets at other medical college hospitals,” professor Susanta Banerjee, director of medical education said.
“After getting a green signal from the chief minister, we will issue a directive to all teaching hospitals to procure stents from SSKM for a temporary period till the management of these hospitals make arrangements to stock affordable stents in their medicine shops. We will also talk to the manufacturing company supplying stents at the SSKM shop to contact the medical colleges,” Banerjee said.
“Considering the forthcoming panchayat polls in the state, the chief minister wants affordable stents to be stocked in other medical colleges also. Poor and middle class people will benefit once they get such devices at huge discounts,” said a senior cardiologist associated with the Trinamool Congress backed Progressive Doctors Association.
The market for stents has long been a controversial one with many questioning the high prices, alleging that doctors often pocket huge commission by selling the devices.