The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has proposed capping stent prices at rates charged by the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) with an annual increase of 10 per cent.
This is among the options the NPPA is considering to control stent prices before it begins three days of consultations with manufacturers tomorrow.
“In case of coronary stents, hospitals and nursing homes are acting as de facto retailers,” NPPA said in a notification.
The CGHS, which provides subsidised health care to central government employees, charges Rs 23,000 for drug-eluting stents and Rs 12,000 for metal stents. In open market, prices of stents range between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh. Stents are metal or plastic tubes inserted into arteries and veins to keep the passageway open. Drug-eluting stents releases drugs to block cell proliferation.
In July, stents were brought under the national list of essential medicines, which requires their prices be capped. Consultations began in August and the department of pharmaceuticals included stents in the Drug Price Control Order 2013 last month, following which the NPPA began the process of finding acceptable price ceilings.
Another option the NPPA is considering is a 35 per cent trade margin over the cost of production or import of stents. “This formula did not work for drugs and is unlikely to work for medical devices,” said Pavan Choudary, director-general, Medical Technology Association.
Local and foreign stent makers have been at loggerheads over differential pricing of drug-eluting stents. According to the order, all drug-eluting stents, including Abbott’s fully dissolvable stents, fall under one category now. Multinational manufacturers have criticised this.
“While price caps are essential to ensure availability of stents to all the people, unreasonable caps may lead to compromises in quality,” said Vivek Jawali, chief cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon at Fortis.