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Govt caps coronary stent price at Rs 30,000 in relief for lakhs of patients

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has capped the price of life-saving coronary stents, a spring-like metal device used to prop open blocked arteries in the heart, at Rs 30,000.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2017 21:41 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Coronory stent,Pharmaceutical,Medicine prices
The selling price of stents has been slashed by up to 85%.(Representative image)

Prices of life-saving coronary stents -- a spring-like metal device used to prop open blocked arteries -- have been capped at Rs 30,000, which is a cost drop of about 85% from what is commercially available.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) — the country’s top body that fixes prices for drugs -- on Monday fixed the rates of bare metal stents and drug-eluting stents at Rs 7,260 and 29,600 respectively.

The move comes as a relief for lakhs of patients who are forced to pay inordinately high amounts for the device.

There are massive margins charged at each step in the distribution and supply of stents, and by the time the patient gets it, the increase from the original cost of the stent is often in the range of 1,000-2,000%.

There has been a lot of criticism about hospitals making huge profits on stents, which in some cases was as high as 650%.

“Hospitals now under legal obligation to bill cardiac stents separately from ‘procedure’ or ‘packages’,” tweeted NPPAindia.

While cardiologists largely welcomed the step, there is also a fear about quality getting compromised in the long run.

“It is good that more people will now be able to afford this life-saving device; however, in the long run I see high-quality stents disappearing from our market because of the cap. It would have been a better idea to divide stents into different categories, including specialised stents, and then fix the price. These devices can’t be divided into just two broad categories,” says senior cardiologist Dr Purshottam Lal.

The Union health ministry included stents in NLEM last year, after the Delhi high court sought action on a public interest petition seeking price control on the device.

All medicines under NLEM have to be notified as schedule-I drugs so that their prices can be controlled.

With cardio vascular diseases on the rise, the number of angioplasties being performed has doubled in the country during the past 5 years.

First Published: Feb 14, 2017 10:32 IST