In a major relief to lakhs of cardiac patients, the government today cut prices of life-saving coronary stents by up to 85 percent, capping them at Rs. 7,260 for bare metal ones and Rs. 29,600 for drug eluting variety.
The maximum retail price of bare metal stents (BMS) and drug eluting stents (DES) will be Rs. 7,623 and Rs. 31,080, respectively, inclusive of VAT and other local taxes. The new prices are applicable with immediate effect, Chemical and Fertilizer Minister Ananth Kumar said while announcing the decision.
Earlier, the average maximum retail price (MRP) for BMS was Rs.45,000 and it was Rs. 1.21 lakh for for DES. The government has asked the companies to change the MRP of the existing stock.
A coronary stent is a tube-shaped device placed in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. It keeps the arteries open in the treatment of coronary heart diseases.
"We want to stop the menace of over-pricing of coronary stents in various hospitals. After careful consideration and after having inputs from various stakeholders, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has decided to fix the ceiling prices for cardiac stents," he said.
The minister said the capping of the stent price will result in saving of Rs 80,000—90,000 per piece and gross relief of Rs 4,450 crore in a year for cardiac patients.
The companies will have to revise the price of the existing stock being sold in the market, he said, adding that stringent action will be taken against hospitals and suppliers for overcharging.
The health ministry has been told to take steps to curb unethical practices by hospitals such as charging more from patients for procedure, treatment and post—care, to recover their losses due to reduction in stent prices, he noted.
In a notification issued on this issue, NPPA said:
"... it was found that huge unethical mark—ups are charged at each stage in the supply chain of coronary stents resulting in irrational, restrictive and exorbitant prices in a failed market system driven by information asymmetry between patients and doctors, pushing patients to financial misery."
Under such extraordinary circumstances, there is an urgent necessity, in public interest, to fix ceiling price of coronary stents to bring respite to the patients, it added.
The government had included coronary stents in the national list of essential medicines (NLEM), 2015, in July 2016 and in the first Schedule of the Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO), 2013, in December 2016.
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