Good news! Patients suffering from coronary artery diseases can now have their treatment at a much lesser cost than expected. Angioplasty may now become more affordable due to the reduction in the prices of the stents as regulated by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) in India.
What are stents?
Stents are small medical instruments that are implanted in the patient’s heart who suffer from narrowed or closed arteries. These cardiac stents are expandable once they are placed in the required artery through the process of angioplasty. The function of the stent is to open narrowed arteries, prevent heart attack and chest pains.
How many types of stents are available in India?
There are three types of stents that are used in the hospitals in India:
- Bare metal stents, which is the cheapest and the most basic form of stents.
- Drug-Eluting Stents (DES) is a much advanced form that, after its implant, releases a drug that helps the arteries to function properly
- Biodegradable stent is the most developed and latest version of heart stents that after a point dissolves and get absorbed by the body.
What was the cost of these stents?
The cost of the stents has been very high in India that directly increased the cost of the angioplasty treatment. The cost of bare metal stents was around Rs. 20,000 whereas drug eluting stents and biodegradable stents does not cost less than about Rs. 1.90 lakh.
What steps did the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority take?
In order to curb the prices of these stents the NPPA took the following steps:
- In the month of January 2017, the NPPA held a 3 day Summit in New Delhi to discuss about the reduction of the prices of the stents.
- Representatives of medical devices producing companies, representatives from the commerce section of the medical devices sector, hospitals and nursing homes, reputed cardiologists, medical device distributors and NGOs are requested to provide their valuable suggestions in the meeting.
- Although debates were going own amongst the drug pricing regulators and the patient access bodies, it was suggested that NPPA may curtail the cost of the stents by 50%.
- The NPPA then finally declared that the cost of the stents are slashed by a major 85%.
- The prices of bare metal stents are reduced to Rs. 7,260 whereas drug eluting stents and biodegradable stent prices are cut down to Rs. 29,600.
- The huge cut in the prices of the stents may therefore lead to a reduction of the cost of the angioplasty treatment.
New Rules and Regulations
- As the NPPA heavily slashed down the stent prices, it has also formulated a lot of strict and mandatory regulations.
- The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has made it compulsory for cardiac hospitals to display the cost of stent separately while billing the patient.
- According to NPPA the hospitals also have to abide by the new ceiling prices of the stents.
- In the separate bill along with the price they will also mention all the other details like brand name, manufacturer's name and others.
- The price list formulated by the stent manufacturers should be displayed in the hospitals so that patients can clearly see them.