In the process of fixing a ceiling price for life-saving coronary stents, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority on Friday proposed various price points, ranging from Rs 21,881 to Rs 67,272, depending on the formula used.
Stents are currently priced anywhere between Rs 23,000 to Rs 2.5 lakhs each.
On December 21, the Department of Pharmaceuticals had ordered the Authority to cap the price of stents and make them more affordable. The Authority has 60 days to fix the ceiling price for stents.
A stent is a short wire-mesh tube that acts as a scaffold to keep a blocked artery of the heart open. A bare metal stent is an older generation device that consists only of the scaffolding. The newer drug-eluting stent has a coat of medicine, which it releases in the artery after its insertion. The drug prevents further blockage in the artery of the heart.
The price proposed for bare metal stent, not as commonly used as the drug-eluting one, is even lower. It ranges between Rs 9,524 to Rs 15,211.
For the past few weeks, the Authority has been hearing representations from various stakeholders, including pharmaceutical companies and members of civil society, on the topic. The usual formula to fix the ceiling price of a drug is to take an average of the maximum retail price, and give a profit margin of 16%.
Since the stent market is available only at hospitals, who sell it at a huge profit, the Authority decided to use other baseline prices, and not the maximum retail price.
The figures were drawn after taking into account various baseline prices – including price to distributor, price to hospital (who use the stent on the patient), landed cost (including manufacturing cost, shipping, customs duties, among other costs), and the cost of Central Government Health Scheme.