Mumbai: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) had decided to halve the price of life-saving coronary stents in December 2016. At that time some distributors and hospitals had raised concerns for the losses they would make. The affordability of patients was given secondary importance. Now with the NPPA decision, patients may not have to pay more than Rs 70,000 for a drug-eluting or biodegradable stent.

Stents are thin flexible wire mesh used to clear blockages in the heart by inserting it in the blood vessels, especially those close to the heart. The decision will standardise the price of stents which was earlier decided solely by the hospitals and distributors.

All the cardiologists across the city have welcomed this move by saying it will help the patient relatives to buy the stents at cheaper rate. Dr. Prem Aggarwal, Cardiologist said some of the distributors and hospitals will oppose the move because they make great profits from selling the stents. “The manufacturers do not get a lot of profit as compared to the distributor and the doctors,” added Aggarwal.

Dr Gaurav Gupta, former medial director of Cumballa Heart Institute agreed to the fact that stents should be standardised but he also fears that this would encourage cheap and local stents which adds a huge risk to the patient’s life. “It is a good move that the government is doing this but then they should subsidise the taxes and custom duties imposed as stents usually comes from abroad. Initially when stents were first introduced they were expensive because of the research cost involved in this but now the manufacturers have recovered their cost,” he added.

Dr Gupta added the price of stents varies according to its quality. “There are basically three types of stents; medicated, non-medicated and bio-degradable. The medicated ones are used in case of special patients requirements which can infuse drugs in the body. The non-medicated ones are the simplest forms of stents while the bio-degradable ones are the latest as they become a part of your system within a few years and are most of the times opted by the patients.”

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