The prices of stents — tiny wire mesh tubes used widely by surgeons to unclog arteries and prevent heart attacks — may be capped by mid-February next year now that the government has notified them in the country’s drug price control order.
The decision comes months after the health ministry included stents in the National List of Essential Medicines and after much objection by stent-makers and some doctors who had called for differential pricing for superior versions of these stents ..
The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) on Wednesday evening notified bare metal, drug eluting and biodegradable stents in Schedule-I of the country’s Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO) 2013. According to the DPCO, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority — India’s drug pricing watchdog — is expected to fix the ceiling prices of these stents within 60 days of them being notified.
“NPPA is requested to take further action urgently,” the department has stated in a December 21 letter to Bhupendra Singh, chairman of the pricing regulator.
NPPA could not be reached for comment by the time this story went to press.
The health ministry’s decision to include stents in the country’s essential medicines list led to a divided response from associations representing global and domestic stent makers.
The move was heavily criticised by associations like the Confederation of Indian Industry and Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) and some industry officials went as far as to say it would halt launches of newer generations of stents.
“The industry is not saying that medical device prices shouldn’t be regulated, but the government should not use the same yardstick as drugs to regulate them,” CII medical technology division’s chairman, Himanshu Baid, earlier said.
Prices of drug eluting stents, used in 95% cases, range between Rs 23,625 to Rs 1.5 lakh in private hospitals. In some cases, they cost as much as Rs 2 lakh, industry officials told ET.