Firms recall high-end stent stocks, new ones hard to come by

Doctors fear patients may be forced to go abroad for treatment

Firms recall high-end stent stocks, new ones hard to come by
Distributors have not delivered new consignments of high-end coronary stents to a few hospitals in the city.

What was available at regular intervals earlier is now available only on demand. A notification by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority on February 13 capped the prices of the stents. Following this, manufacturers began recalling stocks from hospitals on the pretext of relabelling them with revised prices.

Hospitals claim that they have just sufficient stock to manage for a few weeks. Patients who opt for high-end stents in the weeks to come might only have access to mid-end ones as new consignments that are to arrive from US and Europe will not come.

The director of a super-speciality cardiac hospital said distributors told the hospital that the companies were not keen on sending the devices back as the revised prices could mean severe losses to them. The cardiologist said there was no scarcity for bare metal stents (the low-end ones) or mid-end stents.

Dr Madan Gaekwad, president, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association, said similar situation prevailed across hospitals, including Sagar Hospitals where he works. “The biodegradable stents and other high-end stents that were withdrawn are yet to be returned,” he added.

“It is a false notion that hospitals are making money. Our profit margin from the stent is less than 10%. The distributors have a bigger margin,” Gaekwad said.  Dr Girish Navasundi, senior interventional cardiologist, Apollo Hospitals, said, “Last week, we found it difficult. Now, most stents have been placed back.”

Only on demand

Certain stents are made available on demand basis only. “Bioabsorbable stents which were priced around Rs 1.8 lakh before the capping are now available on demand only. These are high-end stents that melt away after three years,” he said. These are imported from the US.

Navasundi said there is a fear that the best of stents will not be available in India in future. “The new generation stents allow us to perform complex angioplasties. Domestic manufacturers cannot match the deliverability for complex anatomy. We can also stop medication early with the new stents. Doctors must be allowed access to this. Else, we will be forcing Indians to travel aboard for treatment and defeat the purpose of providing affordable care.”

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