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Price Cap On Medical Devices Will Stunt Innovation And Harm Patients

02/09/2016 11:30 AM IST | Updated 02/09/2016 11:51 AM IST
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As a doctor, I am clear that I want to use and deliver only the best to my patients. And to be able to do that, I need to have access to the best quality medical equipment and the most sophisticated technology available. These will ensure that I put in my best to improve patient outcomes and also to evolve and get better as a practitioner. As I see it, it's a symbiotic relationship -- new technology only helps me use my skills in the best possible and most productive way, to serve the community's health goals. It's a win-win!

No policy should compromise on the quality and efficacy of a medical product.

And in my opinion the price capping of medical devices will directly impact innovation. If regulations directly or indirectly bar the manufacturers from a fair return on their investment, innovation will take a direct hit, and no new/better products will come to the market. While I agree that no one should earn humongous profits, the innovators should get a considerable ROI (return on investment) to be able to invest further in the research and development of newer technologies, which is a prerequisite to the growth and evolution of the med-tech sector. Without innovation, the medical fraternity, and thus the patients, will be severely shortchanged.

I agree that patients should be of central concern, but we need to ensure that the policies we deploy aren't counterproductive to their interests. Capping, I feel, will only lead to a massive restriction in the availability of choices of devices. Patients and doctors will begin basing their choice on what is available in the market, and not on what is desired for quality treatment. And that is not a healthy scenario, neither for medicine, not for patients.

The solution

We need to be careful. The government needs to be careful. No policy should compromise on the quality and efficacy of a medical product. In my opinion, we could have a cap on the basic generation stent to ensure that most people can easily afford it, but we should not come in the way of those who can afford to pay for a superior quality stent. Why should we limit access for patients who are willing to pay for a new generation medical device?

Also, it is imperative to prioritize the quality of such devices. For instance, if we use a poor quality device, it may necessitate a restenosis process where the quality of outcome is 80% lower. Thus, to provide quality care to the patient, we should use the best devices in the first go to avoid complications in the later stages. That's how I work!

While Indian companies are doing well, the medical industry still needs to evolve at the local front to be able to compete with globally approved medical technology. We have a long way to go still.

The government should prioritize quality and safety of medical devices over their pricing for sustained growth of the healthcare sector.

I reiterate that I advocate differential pricing as a solution to the problem of access to such life-saving medical devices, but putting a price cap on the same, in my view, is a step backwards. The government should prioritize quality and safety of medical devices over their pricing for sustained growth of the healthcare sector.

I believe in this simple adage: "Do unto your patient as you do unto yourself and your family." That's the rule I work by, and capping seems to be going against this.

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