The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has capped the price of knee implants, bringing relief to patients who need expensive knee replacement surgeries. On Wednesday, the NPPA passed a directive that said that the most commonly used knee replacement implant made of cobalt chromium cannot be priced at more than Rs 54,720, excluding the Good and Service Tax.
Currently, a patient has to spend at least Rs 1.5 lakh to buy a cobalt chromium knee implant of the same quality. This means the order will bring the price such orthopaedic knee implants down by a whopping 65%.
The NPPA’s directive comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech, said that the government is going regulate knee implant prices like it had done with the prices of cardiac stents. In February, the NPPA had passed an order capping the prices of stents used cardiac procedures.
The NPPA’s decision to release the order on August 16 does not come as a surprise as the authority had released data on August 4 that shows the average trade margin on orthopaedic knee implants is 313%.
At present, the NPPA can regulate the prices of drugs listed on the National List of Essential Medicines, but knee implants are not part of the list. However, the NPPA has invoked a provision in Paragraph 19 of the Drug Price Control Order, which gives the government the power to determine a ceiling price for any drug or medical device in extraordinary circumstances and in case of public interest “as it deems fit”.
Apart from capping the price of basic knee implants, the NPPA has also capped the price of implants used in revision knee replacement surgeries at Rs 1,13,950. According to a study conducted by the NPPA to understand profits made by knee-implant manufacturing companies, distributors and hospitals, patients pay an average of Rs 2,76,869 for revision revision knee replacement surgical implants.
“The cost is a major issue for patients who are opting for knee replacement surgery,” said Dr Pradeep Bhosale, orthopedic surgeon at Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai. “But, with such reduction in prices, we fear that companies may stop selling their advanced implants in the Indian market.”
The NPPA has urged manufacturers to ensure the availability of all the brands of implants and said that companies should ensure that no disruption is caused in the supply chain because of printing new prices on the products.