The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has capped the prices of coronary stents at Rs 7,260 for bare metal ones and Rs 29,600 for the drug-eluting variety. The notification to the effect was issued on Monday night. With stents currently priced in the range of Rs 25,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh, this will bring stent prices down by up to 80 per cent.
A stent is a tube-shaped device that when inserted into a blocked blood vessel can help clear the blockage, sometimes through physical means but often through the drugs it gives out at a slow rate. The Health Ministry had in July last year included stents in the list of essential medicines, paving the way for the capping of prices.
According to the notification, while manufacturers who are currently selling at prices higher than the cap will have to bring down prices, those selling at lower than the ceiling prices will have to maintain the existing MRP. Institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes and clinics performing cardiac procedures using coronary stents and billing directly to patients too will have to comply with the price ceilings.
In its notification outlining the reasons why the price cap has become essential, NPPA wrote: “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; and whereas under such extraordinary circumstances there is an urgent necessity in public interest, to fix ceiling price of coronary stents to bring respite to patients.”