The Union Health Ministry's financial advisor has rejected the proposal of the Director General of Health Services to reduce the prices of stents by 40%.
In a three-page note to health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Rajiv Takru — who has been promoted to the post of secretary in the finance ministry and will assume charge on February 1 — wrote that the categorisation of stents and respective costs on the basis of country of origin was unsubstantiated.
He recommended that all stents irrespective of their country of origin — USA, UK or India — should be priced at Rs. 25,000.
Director General of Health Services Dr Jagdish Prasad, who is also an advisor to health minister Azad, had proposed new rates for heart and vascular stents for reimbursement to Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) beneficiaries.
The DGHS suggested bringing down the prices of the Indian manufactured stents without FDA (USA) or CE (Europe) approval from the current R40,000 to R25,000.
Prices of all CE-approved drug eluting stents are set to decrease from R50,000 to Rs. 40,000 and all FDA-approved stents from R65,000 to R50,000. This time, however, the DGHS has proposed a new category of FDA-approved "new generation" stents for Rs. 55,000.
Takru opposed the proposal of pegging the US Food and Drug Administration new generation stents at Rs. 55,000.
“These stents placed in the high-end category are hardly new generation stents. The bio-absorbable stents, which actually are a step forward, and a clear departure from the previous generation of drug eluding stents, have not been included,” said an officer from the health ministry, requesting anonymity.
“This move to reduce the Indian-made prices at Rs. 25,000 will completely wipe out the Indian manufacturing,” said the officer. There are 11 Indian companies, manufacturing drug eluding stents.
The DGHS, however, feels that this move to reduce prices will have an overall impact on the cost of heart procedures in the country. “It is important to revise the rates so as to regulate the stent market,” he said.