NPPA cuts stent prices further

NPPA cuts stent prices further

Much to the relief of heart patients, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority on Monday further lowered the prices of coronary stents.

The cost of drug-eluting stents has now been fixed at Rs 27,890, less by more than Rs 2,200 from the previous ceiling price. The cost of bare metal stents has been enhanced marginally to be pegged at Rs 7,660.

The authority ruled out the creation of a new sub-category of drug-eluting stents, as demanded by a section of the industry that argues against price fixation.

The new ceiling prices would be in place until March 31, 2019, when it would be reviewed once again. The existing trade margin of 8% for hospitals and distributors remains unaltered.

What may be the first step for yet another price control move, the NPPA asked hospitals to generate separate bills for the prices of catheters and other material used in angioplasty.

In a separate analysis of the trade margins, manufacturers and importers of the cardiac guide wire, balloon catheters and guiding catheter enjoy, the regulator found the average margin between the MRP and import price vary between 158% on the lower side to 405% on the higher.

On the other hand, the margin (against MRP) enjoyed by the distributors and stockists on these items range from 93% to 234%.

The analysis was carried out after taking inputs from all Indian and foreign players in the medical device market.

"Stent price capping enabled poor patients to afford new generation drug-eluting stents instead of old bare metal stents. Use of bare metal stent reduced by more than 30% and replaced by the drug-eluting stents. Affordability matters so do the poor," NPPA chairperson Bhupendra Singh tweeted last week.

The drug price regulator zeroed in on the new price norms after having multiple rounds of discussions with stent importers and manufacturers as well as doctors and hospitals.

Last year, the authority fixed the ceiling price on the coronary stent after it found that these life-saving medical devices were being sold at a hugely inflated price, keeping them out of reach for a large number of people requiring angioplasty and compelling others to spend higher than their paying capacity.

On March 31, 2017, the authority fixed ceiling prices of Rs 30,180 for drug-eluting stents and Rs 7,400 for the bare metal stent, and decided to review the price after a year. In the same spirit, the NPPA later fixed the ceiling prices of knee implants.