In a major measure of relief to cardiac patients in India, the government fixed the ceiling price of coronary stents which are used to open up blocked arteries.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, in a notification, put a ceiling price on drug eluting stents (DES) and bioresorbable stents at Rs 29,600, and that of bare metal stents at Rs 7,260, effective from Tuesday. The ceiling price excludes local taxes.
The cost of a drug eluting stent currently ranges between Rs 24,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh, and that of a bioresorbable stent is between Rs 1.7 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. A bare metal stent costs between Rs 7,000 and Rs 20,000.
"During deliberations, it was found that huge unethical markups 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 the patient and doctors pushing patients to financial misery," an NPPA notification said.
The NPPA also said that a stent could cost the patient over ten times more by the time it moved from the manufacturer to the patient.
In July 2016, the Union Health Ministry had, through a notification, included coronary stents under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM). Drugs and devices listed in the NLEM have to be sold at the price fixed by NPPA. This was after the Delhi High Court sought government action on a public interest litigation (PIL) appeal seeking price control on stents.