Mumbai: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on Tuesday capped prices of coronary stents, a move that will provide major relief to cardiac patients. A stent is a tiny expandable metal scaffold to open up narrowed or blocked arteries.
According to a notification on NPPA’s website, the ceiling price of bare metal stents has been fixed at Rs7,260 per unit and that of drug eluting stents and biodegradable stents has been fixed at Rs29,600 per unit. The ceiling price excludes local tax and will come into effect immediately. This price is also applicable to all stocks in the trade channel.
NPPA carried out consultations with stakeholders for fixing the ceiling price of coronary stents and considered all available information and data on prices.
“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," NPPA said in the notification.
The Union health ministry, following the recommendations of an expert sub-committee, notified the decision to include coronary stents under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) in July 2016. As per the law, drugs and devices listed in the NLEM must be sold at the price fixed by NPPA.
A bare metal stent costs Rs7,000-20,000. Drug-eluting stents, which are inserted into diseased coronary arteries and release drugs to prevent cell proliferation, make up almost 95% of the market and cost Rs30,000-80,000, while the price of a dissolvable stent in India is Rs2-3 lakh.
Almost 60% of the stents market, valued at about $500 million, is shared by multinational firms such as Abbott Laboratories, Medtronic, Meril Lifesciences Pvt Ltd and Boston Scientific Corp.
The health care industry had been lobbying hard to block the government’s move to cap stents prices as it would hurt margins.