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After cardiac stents, Centre slashes knee implant prices

As per estimates, the move could result in savings of Rs 1,500 crore annually to patients requiring knee replacement surgery.

health Updated: Aug 17, 2017 00:40 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Knee implants,Cardiac stents,NDA
The price of commonly used cromium cobalt knee implants is fixed at Rs 54, 720 and dominates about 80% of the market.(Shutterstock)

A day after PM Narendra Modi announced in his Independence day speech that prices of knee surgery would be brought down, country’s drug price regulator — National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixed the selling price of knee implants from Rs 54,000 to Rs 1.14 lakh, nearly 70% lower than most surgeries currently cost. Goods and Services Tax will be extra.

The price for the commonly used cromium cobalt knee implants that rules about 80% of the market share is fixed at Rs 54,720, which is currently available for between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh.

Titanium alloy which comes close second will now cost Rs 67, 110 that was available for about Rs 2 lakh – Rs 2.5 lakh.

NPPA, in a detailed order, has created different slabs based on the implant material and the part of knee that needs replacement.

Cancer patients needing an implant have been provided major relief, with costs for specialised implants slashed to Rs 1,13,950 from the current over Rs 5 lakh and above.

As per estimates, the move could result in savings of Rs 1,500 crore annually to patients requiring knee replacement surgery.

“It is noticed that orthopedic-knee implants are having unjustified, unreasonable and irrational high trade margins leading to their exorbitant prices which affects the out of pocket expenses of patients and lakhs of patients are not able to pay for arthroplasty procedures… the estimates of such patients requiring arthroplasty intervention, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, is about 1.5 to 2 crores out of which only about 1 lakh plus well off patients are in a position to pay for it every year,” an excerpt from the order reads.

“After cardiac stents, we have now decided to bring knee implants under price control,” said Ananth Kumar, minister for chemicals and fertilizer, which NPPA comes under.

“Government will take stringent action against hospitals, importers, retailers if they charge in excess of the MRP.”

The industry insiders though agree there was a need to rationalize implant prices, however, there is also skepticism about how much patients will benefit ultimately.

“The implant price, as I see it, will be cheaper by just about 20-25%. There wasn’t a loot going on as it was made out to be, even though there was a need to regulate prices,” said Dr Amit Nath Misra, senior orthopaedic surgeon, Apollo Hospital.

A certain section believes, hospitals will find ways to maintain the profit margin.

“Bringing down the cost of the implant may not necessarily mean the cost of procedure will also come down. Knee replacement procedure isn’t all about the implant cost there are other costs involved that may go up to maintain a certain profit margin,” said a senior orthopaedic surgeon at a government hospital.

First Published: Aug 17, 2017 00:28 IST