The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority on Monday fixed the ceiling price of drug eluting stents and bioresorbable stents at Rs30,000 and of bare metal stents at Rs7,500. The prices will be effective from notification on 14 February.
This will come as a huge relief to lakhs of patients who have to undergo coronary angioplasty to insert stents to open up clogged arteries. Over six lakh stents were estimated to have been used in angioplasties in India in 2016.
The cost of a drug eluting stent currently ranges between Rs24,000 and Rs1.5 lakh and that of a bioresorbable stent between Rs1.7 lakh and Rs2 lakh. Over 95 per cent of stents used in India are drug eluting.
According to data submitted by stent companies to the NPPA, the average manufacturing cost of a drug eluting stents for a domestic company is about Rs8,000 and prices of imported ones start at about Rs5,000. The NPPA also revealed that a stent could cost the patient over ten times more by the time it moved from the manufacturer to the hospital and then the patient.
The data showed that hospitals made the maximum profit on stents, marking up prices by as much as 650 per cent in some cases. Many hospitals see stents as part of their revenue stream and make huge profits on them and hospital groups had strongly opposed price control on stents.
With the new notification, hospitals will have to bill stents separately. All hospitals will also have to follow Para 24 (4) of the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013 which states: "Every retailer and dealer shall display the price list and the supplementary price list, if any, as furnished by the manufacturer, on a conspicuous part of the premises where he carries on business in a manner so as to be easily accessible to any person wishing to consult the same."
The health ministry notified the inclusion of stents in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) on 19 July last year, after the Delhi High Court sought action on a public interest petition seeking price control on stents.
Five months later, on 21 December, the department of pharmaceuticals notified stents in schedule-I of the DPCO 2013 clearing the way for price fixation.
"If this is true, this is definitely heart-warming news for millions of Indians. We look forward to immediate implementation," said Malini Aisola of the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN).