Eminent cardiologist Dr Ashok Seth, here on Saturday, “fully backed” the union government’s decision last February to cap the prices of life-saving coronary stents,saying the move had come as a great relief for lakhs of heart patients across the country.
But, he said, it was equally important for the government to ensure that the stents available in the market were of a high quality. “In the absence of robust quality control regulations in the country, there is a strong possibility that the fineness of stents may be undermined”, he told reporters.
Dr Seth, who is chairman of Fortis Escorts Heart Institute and Medical Governance Board, New Delhi,was here to participate in ‘Cardicon 2017’, the annual conference of Cardiological Society of India (CSI), Bihar chapter.
“Since all stents are not the same, their prices should be categorized on the basis of their quality,” said Dr Seth, on whom the BC Roy national award had been conferred recently, for his contributions to the field of medicine. He is also member of the Medical Council of India and its academic sub-committee.
According to Dr Seth, technologically advanced stents are evolved on the basis of trial on thousands of persons and extensive scientific data, whereas low quality stents could be produced after carrying out a small exercise and on the basis of trial on a few persons, which could prove harmful for patients.
Dr Seth said high end stents were freely available in the market, at present. A problem may arise once there was a shortage of quality stents, at some point of time in the future.
On February 14 this year, the prices of life-saving coronary stents -- a spring-like metal device used to prop open blocked arteries -- were capped at Rs 30,000, a cost drop of about 85% from what was commercially available.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) — the country’s top body that fixes prices for drugs -- fixed the rates of bare metal stents and drug-eluting stents at Rs 7,260 and 29,600 respectively.
The move came as a relief for lakhs of patients who are forced to pay inordinately high amounts for the device.