With wide disparities in the prices of stents used by heart patients – both domestic and imported - the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has proposed a 50-per cent reduction in the maximum retail prices of this essential product.
The drug price regulator plans to bring stents under the scheme to provide comprehensive healthcare to central government employees and members of their families and has asked manufacturers to submit stent pricing data within one week.
Stent manufacturers oppose the move saying it would affect patients as quality will suffer further at a time when doctors and hospitals are opting for USFDA-approved stents that cost around Rs1,20,000 – double the price of a locally-produced stent.
According to a report in the Business Standard, while the maximum retail price (MRP) of a stent manufactured abroad and made in India could be similar, the cost to the patient could vary by a wide margin.
''While there is an MRP in the Indian market, at times stents are sold to hospitals at prices much lower, especially in the case of domestically manufactured stents,'' the report quoted an executive said.
Indian stent manufacturers often lack the bargaining power as hospitals prefer USFDA-approved stents, he explained.
Import data also shows that the import price of stents in India are much lower than the MRP of the product. While a prominent multinational's fully dissolvable stents are sold at around Rs 2 lakh, its import price is Rs42,125.
Another well-known foreign stent lands at a price of Rs74,777, even as its MRP in India is Rs1.2 lakh. A third MNC's stents are mported at Rs18,271 apiece, while the MRP is Rs1.65 lakh.
Landed price is the company's cost of manufacturing the stent in the country of origin. While there aren't any customs duties on import of stents, taxes including value-added tax, duties on guide wire and balloons that facilitate angioplasty sum up to around 35 per cent.
Estimates suggest that only 40 per cent of the stents manufactured in India are sold in India.
In a recent draft proposal, NPPA said prices of drug eluting stents may vary between Rs21,881 and Rs67,272. The NPPA is considering five options to fix the price of stents.
According to CGHS rates, drug eluting stents would be priced at Rs22,500. If the average price to distributor is taken into consideration, with a margin of 16 per cent, drug eluting stents will be priced at Rs27,225.
The highest price as per the NPPA's calculations is the average price to the hospital, with a margin of 16 per cent. Using this formula, the price is likely to be around Rs67,272.