Day after price cap, high-end stents scarce

Day after price cap, high-end stents scarce
Coronary stents became scarce in private and government hospitals on Wednesday, a day after the national drug price regulator capped their prices.

Manufacturers say they are withdrawing stocks to comply with the government’s directive to mark down prices on their labels immediately.

Patients awaiting angioplasty over the next couple of months now face uncertainty. In some hospitals, patients were distressed to hear about the scarcity, and started arguing with the authorities.

Dr C N Manjunath, director, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, said device makers began taking back high-end stents on Wednesday.

“This might affect patients who have asked for them, and other cases scheduled over the next few weeks,” he told DH.

Patients’ concerns

Dr Devi Shetty, chairman of Narayana Health, said his hospital was already witnessing ‘commotion’. “Patients are going back feeling they have received substandard treatment even when they are willing to pay more,” he said.

The price restriction came into force on Tuesday. The notification brought cheer to thousands of patients.

The price restriction denies a patient quality even when he can afford it, Dr Manjunath contended. When more expensive stents are used, he said, chances of a re-narrowing of arteries is just 2%.

“With the ones made available within the capped price, the chances are between 10 and 12%. This means patients might have to undergo the procedure again,’’ he said.
“This might force those who have opted for them to go in for low-quality ones,” he added.

In his view, the price ceiling could discourage investment in stent innovation in India, and stop imports from the US and Europe.

Industry view

Rajiv Nath, forum co-ordinator, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMed), said the price cap would cause inconvenience.

“The decision is absurd and harsh. They asked us to recall stocks forthwith. Each of these are worth tens of thousands of rupees. How can it be done overnight?” he said.

The government has made no arrangement to supply stents while the existing ones are recalled, he said.

The Medical Technology Association of India says drugs with revised prices are given 45 days to transition, but stent manufacturers had not been allowed a similar window.

“Sudden implementation of this order will result in an overall disruption in the market and supply chain, leading to non-availability and chaos for patients in need,” the association has said in a statement.
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