Centre asks firms not to withdraw stents from market

'Keep supply steady or face criminal action'

Centre asks firms  not to withdraw stents from market

The Union government has directed pharma companies not to withdraw coronary stents from the market on the pretext of relabelling.

It has rolled out a notification to tackle the sudden scarcity of stents at hospitals, Union Minister for Pharmaceuticals H N Ananth Kumar said on Friday.

On Wednesday, a day after a price cap came into force, hospitals said manufacturers were taking their stents back. Stents are tube-like devices that improve blood flow to the heart.

DH was the first to report the shortage and what Dr Devi Shetty, chairman of Narayana Health, described as ‘commotion’ at the hospitals.

The Centre’s notification directs manufacturers to continue making stents in the same volumes as the last three years.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event, Kumar said manufacturers needn’t withdraw stents just to relabel them. “But they must sell them at the capped prices,” he said.

Patient savings

The minister contended price restrictions would not adversely impact the device industry.

“The average MRP in the market was Rs 45,000 for bare metal stents and Rs 1.21 lakh for drug-eluting stents. This is now Rs 7,623 and Rs 31,080. Patients will get an average benefit of Rs 80,000 to Rs 90,000 per stent, resulting in a gross relief of Rs 4,450 crore in a year,” he said.

According to a health ministry report, more than 3.5 lakh procedures were performed in 2015 using 4.73 lakh stents.

In 2016, the numbers must have touched five lakh, he said. The market for stents made in India is roughly 30%.

Doctors’ take

Dr C N Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, and Dr Devi Shetty have criticised the government’s decision to regulate prices.  

Warning on price
Hospitals and manufacturers caught flouting the price restriction on coronary stents will attract punishment, Union Minister Ananth Kumar warned.

“Violations or deviations will attract criminal charges and cancellation of licences. The excess cost will have to be returned to the buyer with 15% interest,” he said.

In a statement, the Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI) said member companies had only recalled their products for relabelling with slashed prices. 

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