Health Spending

A year after cutting costs of cardiac stents by up to 85%, NPPA further lowers price by Rs 2,300

It reduced the price of biodegradable stents from Rs 30,180 to Rs 27,890 but also marginally increased the rate of bare metal stents from Rs 7,260 to Rs 7,660.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority on Monday revised the prices of coronary stents, a year after slashing the rates by up to 85%. It reduced the price of biodegradable stents from Rs 30,180 to Rs 27,890 but marginally increased the price of bare metal stents from Rs 7,260 to Rs 7,660.

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 into the artery after its insertion. The drug prevents further blockage in the heart’s artery.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority on Monday said that after intensive deliberations, it decided that cardiac stents have “paramount importance” on public health and so, its price must be kept under regulation in the larger interest. The move was to prevent the cardiac stents’ market from going back to its archaic state, when it was characterised by “exorbitant margins” that led to exploitative pricing, ethical profiteering and an extraordinarily failed market system, the authority added.

The NPPA on Monday also regulated prices of other essential materials used during the stenting procedure, such as the cardiac guidewire and cardiac drug eluting balloon.

The regulator said hospitals, clinics or nursing homes that perform angioplasty procedures will be required to comply with the ceiling prices that have been notified. Manufacturers are allowed to add Goods and Services Tax but no other additional charges in the calculation of maximum retail price, it added.

The authority said the ceiling prices were inclusive of 8% maximum permissible trade margin. It warned manufacturers that if the trade margin crossed 8%, it shall be construed as a violation of the provisions.

The regulator also decided against the request made by multinational stent makers for a new category for advanced stents. The NPPA said the new ceiling price will be in place until March 2019.

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