The cost of exorbitantly priced orthopaedic implants is expected to come down by 40-50%, with a government body suggesting price caps to make them more affordable for patients.
At present, there are no controls on medical devices like cardiac stents and orthopaedic implants, leading to fleecing of consumers. Hip and knee surgeries are estimated to be out of reach for over 80% of patients, thanks to the steep cost of implants.
The National Health Systems Resource Centre, under the ministry of health and family welfare, has suggested price caps in a report to drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, sources told TOI. According to official sources, price regula tion on cardiac stents and implants is expected to be discussed when the department of pharmaceuticals meets medical device manufacturers and health ministry officials on Monday. The sources say that important packaging and labelling changes–including declaring the maximum retail price (MRP), as well as the per unit price on the pack–could be made mandatory to start with.
Nearly 80% of the highend devices, including cardiac stents and implants, are mainly import driven, while the domestic industry manufactures disposables and medical supplies.
Over the last few years, there have been complaints about overcharging, with regulators investigating cases where patients have coughed up almost three to four times the landed cost (price at which these are imported) for certain devices like stents. Since these devices are imported, their prices are already high, and go up further with the duties levied on them. There are concerns as there is a huge gap between the imported price of stents and implants, and the price charged to patients. The cost to patient gets inflated as these are sold by the company at a margin to distributors, and further to hospitals, who levy a “handling surcharge“, which is also not fixed, resulting in huge treatment expenses for patients.
Worse, the pricing structure is opaque, with no MRP mentioned on the stent or implant pack and there being no method to determine the margin charged by the dis tributor or hospital.
Earlier, the NHSRC had recommended that prices of bare metal stents be capped at Rs 19,000 (cost Rs 12,000 20,000), and the maximum price for drug eluting stents be pegged at Rs 28,000 (mar ket cost Rs 23,000 and Rs 1.2 lakh).
Faced with complaints on the steep cost of devices, the government had recommended a string of measures earlier this year including creating an autonomous body , pricing control by including them under the Essential Commodities Act, and a separate policy for regulating prices.
Source: Times of India 23 Nov’ 2015