The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has recently revised the price of drug-eluting stents (DES) downwards by about Rs.2,300 to just under Rs.28,000, and marginally raised the cap on bare metal stents from Rs.7,400 to Rs.7,660, excluding GST. This means that most stents will become cheaper.
After receiving several complaints about overcharging on catheters, balloons and guide wires used for angioplasty, NPPA also made public its analysis of trade margins on these consumables which ranged from over 150% to 400% over import price. NPPA has also asked for the price of catheters, balloons and guide wires to be mentioned separately in hospital bills.
After implementing 5% GST, the new price cap on DES will be Rs.29,285/- and on bare metal stents Rs.8,043. The revised price caps will be effective from Tuesday and remain in effect till March 31, 2019.
After the cap on stent prices, hospitals had jacked up charges for catheters, balloons and guide wires, making these consumables more expensive than the stent, thus minimizing the benefits of the price cap. The NPPA’s analysis of trade margins on these consumables has shown that the highest margin was on balloon catheter, where the MRP was on average 400% over the import price and 234% higher than the price to distributors. NPPA has invited comments from stakeholders on the analysis by March 15.
Welcoming the price revision, All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) issued a statement and asked for expansion of price cap to consumables as a necessary step to making procedures like angiography and angioplasty more affordable and accessible to patients. AIDAN also demanded that NPPA write to the Competition Commission of India to conduct an investigation on the large hospital chains for abusing their dominant position and overcharging for angioplasties post the price cap.
Even as the NPPA sets into motion an examination of the price of consumables, which could lead to a price cap, hospital procedure charges continue to be jacked up by hospitals with widely varying charges being extracted from patients across India. There is no law at present which allows the government to regulate these charges.