National drug pricing regulator NPPA Tuesday put out data on the margins made by players in the trade of stents which showed that hospitals charged the most, a report in The Times of India said. Stents are mesh tubes that are placed in arteries as part of coronary angioplasty in order to treat weak or narrow arteries.
The report said hospital margins sometimes touched almost 650 per cent although not all hospitals charged so much. The NPPA data was based on the figures produced by stent companies and pointed to almost ten-time jump in the price of stents by the time it reaches the patient. The margins also seemed to differ between drug-eluting stents and bare-metal stents. Stents used for surgeries in India are mostly of the drug-eluting variety.
The TOI report also mentions how even though the manufacturers are shown to make the lowest margins, they sometimes indulge in illegal marketing practices.
In December, the NPPA said it was working on fixing ceiling prices of stents as the government notified it in the Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO), 2013. At that time, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) told PTI the move hinders the fundamental right of a patient to have access to advanced, clinically proven, patient condition-specific and high-quality devices. Hospital associations in the past have argued that putting price controls on stents may affect patients looking for innovative and newer technologies in imported stents.
(With inputs from PTI)