New Delhi: Prices of coronary stents are likely to increase marginally from 1 April as they will be revised in line with the wholesale price index (WPI) of the previous calendar year, said two people aware of the matter. This would offer stent makers, who were discontent about price regulation in India, something to cheer about.

Last year’s prices are valid till March 2019, after which the revised prices will be implemented by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), said the people cited above, requesting anonymity.

The national drug price regulator had in February 2018 marginally increased the price of bare metal stents (BES) from 7,260 to 7,660, and reduced prices of drug-eluting and biodegradable stents from 29,600 to 27,890.

This came a year after the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority slashed prices of stents, which are mesh tubes placed in arteries to improve blood flow, by as much as 85%.

Bare metal stents sold for as much as 45,000 and drug-eluting stents cost 1.21 lakh prior to the imposition of the cap in February 2017.

Meanwhile, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority declined a request of multinational stent makers to frame a new category for advanced stents, after several meetings with stakeholders and the opinion of the Union health ministry.

“Before the new prices come into effect, discussions will take place with the stakeholders," one of the people mentioned above said, requesting anonymity.

NPPA decided to revise the prices of stents based on data from manufacturers and importers.

After intensive deliberations and after considering the available information and the market statistics at its disposal, “it was of the unanimous view that cardiac stents being an essential drug under Schedule I of DPCO (drug price control orders) 2013 and part of NLEM (national list of essential medicines) 2015 having paramount importance on public health needs to continue to be kept under price regulation in larger public interest," according to the minutes of the NPPA meeting held in February 2018.

The decision to bring down prices of stents in 2017 was not appreciated by the US which pressed India not to extend price caps on medical devices.

In September 2017, US trade representative Robert E. Lighthizer wrote to commerce minister Suresh Prabhu and Prime Minister’s principal secretary, Nripendra Misra, that the new pricing policy had caused serious problems for US stent makers in India.

He also urged India not to extend caps to other medical devices.

The matter was also discussed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June.

US stent makers had also asked the US trade representative to suspend or withdraw India’s benefits under the generalized system of preferences (GSP).

Under the GSP, Indian exports to the US enjoy lower import tariffs compared with those imposed on non-GSP exporters.

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