Cap on pricing will help patients facing cardiac emergency
With the government notifying all categories of cardiac stents under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) of 2013, heart patients going in for angioplasty could be spared of “exploitative” pricing.
The notification issued by the Department of Pharmaceuticals on Wednesday to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority will now result in a new pricing regime for cardiac stents that will bring in a cap on the maximum retail price of cardiac devices. Bare metal stents, drug-eluting stents and bio-resorbable vascular scaffold or what is known as biodegradable stents would be brought under the DPCO.
The move would bring down the price of stents to less that Rs.15,000 for bare metal stents (BMS) and possibly between Rs.20,000 and Rs.25,000 for drug-eluting stents (DES), said Harikrishnan S., professor of Cardiology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Techno
The government had notified the price of stents for the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) three years ago at Rs.10,000 to Rs.12,000 for BMS and Rs.25,000 for DES. The new notification is likely to bring it down further, Prof. Harikrishnan said.
About 80 per cent of the stents used in angioplasties are drug-eluting stents. And these are priced in the range of Rs.75,000 to Rs.1.75 lakh, claiming better quality in design, metal, drug release or any other feature. However, there are no studies to prove that a particular stent is better, say medical researchers.
But the spurt in the demand for stents has resulted in many Indian manufacturers coming up with innovative designs, said K.M. Gopakumar, legal researcher and public health activist associated with the Third World Network. “I expect the health-care industry, manufacturers and the government to be embroiled in a battle on pricing,” he added.
A cap on pricing will definitely bring some comfort to the patient facing a cardiac emergency, said cardiologist P.P. Mohanan, who is also vice president of the Cardiological Society of India (CSI). “There are a range of cardiac stents and cardiologists prefer stents that give lesser chance of restenosis (redoing of angioplasty). Data show that drug eluting stents are better on that account,” said Dr. Mohanan, adding that it would not be fair to have a uniform price for all stents.
About 35,000 angioplasties were done in the State in 2015, with 25 per cent growth almost every year. The CSI estimates about 4 lakh to 4.2 lakh angioplasties a year in the country.