Govt Reduces Heart Stent Cost by 85%
But concern looms over availability of advanced specialized stents in the market
The decrease in the pricing of the stents used in angioplasty surgeries has come as a big relief to patients requiring this heart surgery. In a welcoming move National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has fixed the ceiling prices for coronary stents which will make angioplasty procedure more affordable for patients in India.
A Drug Eluting Stent which has been costing between INR 40,000-1.9 lakh is now capped at INR 29,600. While a Bare Metal Stent, as per new order will now cost INR 7,260, in contrast to previous INR 30,000-75,000. The given prices are exclusive of value added tax (VAT).
The decrease in prices will not only make the heart surgery cheaper by about 85% for the patients but will also keep a check on unethical practices linked to selling and marketing of heart stents from the manufacturers, distributors, and hospitals. The NPPA step will also help in level playing field for the Indian stent manufacturers with foreign manufacturers.
Hospitals have been ordered to separately mention the cost of the coronary stent along with its brand name, name of the manufacturer/importer/batch number and other details, if any, in their billing to the patients. As per the Drug Price Control Order 2013, hospitals are also required to display the prices in the hospital premises.
A policy welcomed by the health industry and seen as in larger public interest, the concern prevails for the patients who want to opt for more advanced, sophisticated stents. These stents are expensive and due to the cap in the pricing, they might not be available in the market. Dr. Naresh Trehan, a renowned cardiac surgeon and Chairman of Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon in an interview to CNBC-TV18 welcomed the price slash, but felt the policy doesn’t address issues of pricing of advanced stents and those in already in inventory.
The coronary stents market is India is estimated to be US$ 531 million. In over a decade India has witnessed a spurt in the cases of coronary heart diseases, which require stenting in the heart.
It is yet to be seen how the government along with price regulation on stent will not allow compromise on the quality of the angioplasty procedure and stents. Also, it should take steps towards availability of advanced specialized stents for the patients who require them.