The prices of life-saving coronary stents, used in angioplasty to ensure blood supply to and from the heart, have been slashed by 85 percent from their existing prices and capped, government said, March 2. – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer #India #Healthcare #SouthAsianHeart #Stents @NaMo #NaMo @Narendramodi #NarendraModi

The price of drug eluting stents and bio-resorbable scaffold or biodegradable stents, which used to range between Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 1.98 lakh, is now capped at Rs. 29,600 and the bare metal stents, earlier priced between Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 75,000, would now cost just Rs. 7,260, the government told a Delhi High Court bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini.

The court took on record a notification issued by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority and disposed of the plea seeking a direction to the government to regulate the prices of life-saving stents.

The high court had asked the government to fix the maximum retail price and a ceiling price of coronary stents.

In pursuance to the high court’s direction, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, said March 2, that on February 13, they had issued an order capping the price of stents and also directed all manufacturers and importers not to price their products below the notified ceiling price.

Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan handed over the copy of the notification and said “the ceiling prices shall be applicable from the date of publication of this notification in the Gazette of India Extraordinary and shall also be applicable to all the stocks of coronary stents available for sale in the trade channel.”

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Birender Sangwan, who had questioned why the manufacturers and hospitals did not display the MRP of stents, along with the ceiling price.

Following this, the high court on December 22 last year had directed the Center to fix a ceiling price and the maximum retail price of cardiac stents by March 1.

Stents had been included in the National List of Essential Medicines in July last year and added to Schedule-I of the Drug Prices Control Order, 2013, in December, bringing the devices under price control.

This meant that the NPPA could start the process of fixing the ceiling prices for them.

Subsequently, the NPPA in its order also asked hospitals to mention the cost of stents separately in the bill along with other details like the stent’s brand name and the name of the manufacturer.

The notification further states that in any case where the stent manufacturer or institution does not comply with the ceiling price, they will be liable to deposit the overcharged amount along with interest under the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013, read with Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

Besides the ceiling, the new notification permits stent manufacturers to add local taxes or Value Added Tax in the calculation of the MRP, provided they have actually paid the taxes or if it is payable to the government on the ceiling price.

NPPA Issues Notices to 9 Hospitals

Regulator NPPA will meet stent manufacturers in the second week of March to discuss issues like pricing and availability of the medical device.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority also said it has so far received complaints against 24 hospitals for overcharging on stents, out of which nine have been issued show cause notices.

It added that non-compliance with its instructions on stent prices may lead to prosecution.

In a notification, the NPPA said it has called for a meeting with stent makers on March 7 “to discuss issues related to availability of stents and monitoring of ceiling prices and other issues.”

The regulator has been monitoring the situation ever since it announced price cap on stents on February 14. It has asked manufacturers, importers, distributors and hospitals to ensure availability at the revised prices.

“Total 24 complaints of overcharging on stents, nine hospitals issued show cause notices, copy of bills awaited in other cases,” the NPPA said in a tweet.

It said in overcharging cases, the name of the concerned stent companies can be ascertained only after receiving replies from hospitals.

“The 24 hospitals under scrutiny are also accountable on not mentioning the name of the company, brand and specifications of stents billed,” the regulator added.

So far in the complaints received, it has been observed from the bill copies that “hospitals are not complying” with instructions specified in its price cap order, it said.

“This a serious non-compliance of government orders,” the NPPA said, adding, “non-compliance of these instructions shall now be treated as deliberated distortion of evidence along with charges of overpricing. Such cases may also be taken up prosecution under EC Act.”

The NPPA also warned the hospitals “that non compliance with its instructions on stent prices may lead to prosecution.”

The hospitals against which complaints have been received include Max Hospital in Saket, New Delhi, Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, Metro Hospital in Faridabad, PGI Hospital Chandigarh and Bharat Heart Institute in Dehradun, among others.

Max Healthcare and Lilavati have denied overcharging patients for stents and insisted they were complying with NPPA guidelines.

The regulator said hospitals, nursing homes and clinics utilizing stents shall specifically and separately mention the cost of the stent along with its brand, name of the manufacturer, importer, batch number and other details in their billing.

In a major relief to lakhs of cardiac patients, the NPPA had slashed prices of life-saving coronary stents by up to 85 per cent by capping them at Rs. 7,260 for bare metal ones and Rs. 29,600 for drug eluting variety.