A week after the government capped stent prices in India, advanced third and fourth generation drug eluting stents (DES) remained unavailable at hospitals.
This is because manufacturers who took back their stock for re-labelling of prices are yet to return them.
Doctors said the shortage inconvenienced a small group of patients with complex blockages in the artery.
Dr MG Pillai, cardiologist at Nanavati Hospital, Vile Parle, said the hospital did not have a third-generation stent available for a 58-year-old patient who suffered an acute heart attack on early Monday morning.
“I performed an angiogram last night at 2.30. The patient has three blockages in a series. We cannot use a second-generation stent in this case because it does not expand beyond 5 millimetre,” he said. “The patient needs a third-generation stent which expands up to 5.5 millimetre.”
“We have spoken to officials from the company. They said they will return the stent soon,” he said.
Dr Dev Pahlajani, cardiologist at Breach Candy Hospital, said the hospital has no stock of third and fourth generation stents.
“Out of 100, there are about 15 challenging cases where we need to use only the third-generation stents to access the blockage. In other cases, we can still use second-generation stents,” he said.
Last Monday, the government slashed the stent prices by nearly 75%. While the bare metal stents were capped at Rs7,260 per unit, the price of drug eluting stents and biodegradable stents has been fixed at Rs29,600 per unit.
The move by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) aims at bringing down the cost of angioplasty in India. Many international stent manufacturing companies and distributors took the stents back from hospitals on the pretext of re-labelling the prices, leading to an artificial shortage.
The NPPA, however, had made it clear that re-labelling the stents with revised price tags was not mandatory.
Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration said they would carry out a fresh round of inspection at hospitals. “We had carried out a round of inspection last week and we had found that the stents were available. But they were mostly second-generation stents. We will now check if there is a shortage on third and fourth generation of DES,” said Harshdeep Kamble, FDA commissioner.