In a major relief to lakhs of heart patients in the country, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is likely to fix the price of coronary stent soon, a move that will help make these life-saving medical devices more affordable.
It is pertinent to mention here that in November 2022, the health ministry has notified the inclusion of coronary stents in the National List of Essential Medicine (NLEM), thus paving the way for fixing of prices of Coronary Stent.
As per the notification issued by the Ministry of Health recently, the Government had constituted the Standing National Committee on Medicine (SNCM) in 2018 to review and revise the National List of Essential Medicines. The SNCM submitted its final report on September 9 and the same was accepted in toto by the health ministry. Subsequently, SNCM on November 6 recommended the inclusion of coronary stands in the list in two categories – Bare Metal Stents and Drug Eluting Stents, which include Metallic DES and and Bioresorable Vascular scaffold/ biodegradable stents.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the world’s leading cause of death and claim as many as 17.9 million lives each year, globally. India accounts for approximately 60% of the world’s heart disease burden.
The capping (fixing) of prices is expected to bring relief of substantial chunk of heart patients. However, it is likely to re-ignite the debate on quality vs affordability.
A senior industry expert who does not wish to be named pointed that since 2017 when central government announced a reduction in the prices of coronary stents for the first time, some of coronary stents have been withdrawn from the Indian market. These include Abbott’s Xience Alpine and Absorb Boston Scientific’s – Synergy.
Some of the experts are also of the opinion that fixing prices may deprive the country from latest medical technology innovations.
“The global pandemic has impacted the way patients and consumers perceive healthcare. Today, patients are conscious and want to understand their line of treatment before undergoing a surgery to comprehend the long-term outcomes and trade-offs. Information of latest products available in other countries is easily accessible on the internet and creates a dilemma for the treating clinician when all these technologies are not available for use in India,” pointed Dr. Viveka Kumar.
Dr. Praveen Chandra, who is associated with a leading private hospital, too expressed similar view. “Over the last 20 years, stent technology has progressed from Bare metal stents to Drug-eluting stents; to thinner-strut stents; Advanced delivery systems to biodegradable polymer-coated DES. With each innovation, the technology has shown marked improvements in safety and benefits to patients with complex disease or co-morbidities like left main disease, calcified blockage, bleeding risk etc. As time progresses, more complex patients are walking in for treatment – hence, continued innovation is required to ensure we are ready with latest treatment options with Stenting and patient care is delivered,” he said.