Feb 19: Barley weeks after the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) has put a cap on cardiac stents leading to a man made scarcity of the life saving instrument in the market, the government has held a meeting with stent makers and importers to review its availability in market. Top government officials met the life saving device makers after reports surfaced that “artificial scarcity is being created in the garb of withdrawing the device for price relabeling”.
There are reports of shortages of stents in hospitals after the government reduced cardiac stent prices by up to 85% by capping rates of bare metal stents at Rs 7,260 and drug- eluting ones at Rs 29,600 on February 13.
“The government held a meeting with all domestic stent manufacturers as well as all the importers and their associations. They have all assured that the supplies would be maintained and no shortage will be allowed to develop. There is enough stock,” Pharma Secretary Jai Priye Prakash told PTI. It was also decided that if needed, a separate meeting with associations and bodies of hospitals will be called with the assistance of health secretary to sensitise the hospitals too, he added.
“We are keeping an eye on all those who are engaging in unethical practices such as creating artificial shortage of stents, not abiding by the fixed ceiling price etc, against whom strict action will be taken,” Prakash had said.
The Department of Pharmaceuticals has already written separately to NPPA, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and Healthy Ministry requesting them to take “necessary action” to curb artificial shortage.
The drug price regulator (NPPA) has fixed stent prices used in cardiac treatment which used to give heart attacks to patients after seeing the cost of non-invasive implantation of the life saving instrument. The regulatory move to cap stent prices followed a hue and cry from several quarters after the drug price regulator released the manufacturing and selling cost of cardiac stents recently.
The stent manufacturers were charging a mark-up – the price charged over the original manufacturing cost of the product – of 250% to 1,000% – for cardiac stents with imported stents made offshore costing more depends on the cut made by distributors and hospitals. Of all the players, hospital margins appear to be the highest, touching about 650%. Incidentally, along with stent companies, it is hospitals and cardiologists who have been most vocal against putting price cap on stents.
Based on data submitted by stent companies, NPPA has worked out the margins at every level and the data showed that the margin on stents ranges from 270% to about 1,000% with the biggest cut on the profit being pocketed by hospitals.