Millennium Post

Buying stents will no longer cause heartburn to cardiac patients

Buying stents will no longer cause heartburn to cardiac patients
Contrary to practice of having a maximum retail price (MRP) as in the case of other drugs or devices, this rule has so far not applied in case of the stents as it is not available across the counter.

In such a scenario patients run the risk of either getting ‘exploited’ by hospitals or face catastrophe.

Given the situation, the government has finally acted to bring the life-saving medical devices under DPCO, 2013 Act. “The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has asked stent manufactures and importers to declare the maximum price of the device, which will help in controlling the price,” an official in the health ministry said.

Explaining, the official said, “Once the MRP of stents is declared, the Drug (Pricing Control) Order, 2013 would come into effect, which allows only 10 per cent hike in the rate of a particular drug or device.” For instance, if a manufacturer declares the price of a stent as Rs20,000 in 2014, then that manufacturer would be restricted from effecting any further hike in that particular year. The price would be revised in the next year that too by just 10 per cent. So in this case, the MRP declared stent would not cost more than Rs 22,000 in next year, the official further said.

Welcoming the initative, Dr Shiv Kumar Choudhary of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said, “It’s good that government has moved to monitor the prices. A comprehensive policy should be initiated to control the prices of not only stents but other life saving drugs in the interest of consumers.”

“The angioplasty procedure (by which a stent is inserted) has become common, but the high cost continues to give heartaches. The hospitals and the distributors in the supply chain make a killing as it is a device generally used in patients for emergency treatment. Any initiative of the government to make treatment affordable should be welcomed,” said leading cardiologist Dr Purshottam Lal of the Metro hospital. Incidentally other leading cardiologists from private sector like Dr Ashok Seth (Fortis Escorts Hospital) and Dr Naresh Trehan (Medanta Hospital) refused to comment.   

According to sources indigenous bare metal stents are provided to the distributor at Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 and if the hospital directly procures the product, the price falls by 25 per cent. While drug-eluting stent is supplied in the range of Rs 25,000 to 40,000 and the hospital can have it cheaper through direct purchase. For an angioplasty procedure, hospitals in the city charge between Rs 75,000 and Rs 2 lakh.

NPPA chairman shifted
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority’s chairman Injeti Srinivas has been shifted to Sports Authority of India (SAI) as Director General. Srinivas, who was proactively working on the core agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide drugs, at affordable price, will replace Jiji Thomson at the SAI. “Srinivas, a 1983-batch IAS officer of Odisha cadre, will continue to hold the post of NPPA chairman on additional charge basis till the appointment of new incumbent to the post or until further order,” the DOPT order said.

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