In a major boost to affordable healthcare in India, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixed the ceiling price of both drug eluting stents (DES), bioresorbable stents and bare metal stents.
Before the ceiling was imposed, a drug eluting stent cost between Rs.24,000 and Rs.1.5 lakh while a bioresorbable stent was priced between Rs.1.7 lakh and Rs.2 lakh.
The prices were way beyond the reach of most patients. Stents are used in coronary angioplasty to open clogged arteries.
According to reports, more than six lakh patients underwent angioplasties in 2016 alone. Around 95 per cent of those patients used DES.
In its notification, the NPPA states: “During deliberations, it was found that huge unethical markups are charged at each stage in the supply chain of Coronary Stents resulting in irrational, restrictive and exorbitant prices in a failed market system driven by information asymmetry between the patient and doctors pushing patients to financial misery.”
The cost of manufacturing a stent is between Rs.5000 to Rs.8000, but by the time it landed in the hands of the patient, the cost had already jumped 10 times.
A order issued by the NPPA instructs the hospitals to follow Para 24 (4) of the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013 to the dot.
The order states that hospitals, nursing homes or clinics shall specifically and separately mention the cost of the coronary stent along with its brand name, name of the manufacturer, importer, batch no. and other details, if any, in their billing to the patients or their representatives.
Stents were included in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) on July 19 last year. In December 21, the department of pharmaceuticals notified stents in schedule-I of the DPCO 2013 clearing the way for price fixation.