New Delhi: In view of the government’s recent notification to bring stents under the country’s drug price control order, Healthcare Federation of India (NATHEALTH) on Thursday expressed its concerns that regulating stent prices may disincentivize companies from launching newer, safer and more efficacious drug eluting stents in India.
“Medical procedures in India are among the most affordable in the world, which is a combination of cost of devices and services. Any notification should be considered only if it can bring down the overall cost of treatment for the patient without denying them the options to avail the treatment of their choice,” said Rahul Khosla, president, NATHEALTH.
The department of pharmaceuticals, under the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers, on December 21 issued a notification bringing coronary stents under schedule-I of Drug (Price Control) Order, 2013. The notification empowered the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to regulate and cap the prices of bare metal stents, drug eluting stents (DES) and bioresorbable vascular scaffold (BVS) or biodegradable stents.
According to NATHEALTH, almost 80% of the healthcare services in India are provided by private care facilities. As supporters of high quality, safe and reliable patient care, the Federation expressed its concern that the notification may hamper procedural complexity based choice – both for the treating doctor and the patient.
NATHEALTH claims to represent the entire eco-system of healthcare including healthcare providers, hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic laboratories, health IT firms, medical technology enterprises, homecare, health insurance, health education and health startup companies.
“The government needs to provide affordable access to drugs and devices, hence regulating prices of medicines and devices is fully justified. However, quality and efficacy of products and clinical outcomes need to be given due priority for patient safety and other critical reasons,” said Anjan Bose, secretary general, NATHEALTH.
“We are also concerned that this may disincentivize technology companies from launching newer, safer and more efficacious drug eluting stents in India. Since the latest globally accepted technology would not be available to international patients, they may abandon Indian hospitals. This may also cause the flight of high quality seeking Indian patients to overseas hospitals in neighbouring countries,” Bose added.
NATHEALTH has asked the government to allow for differential pricing for discrete generation stents as the new generation stents are believed to have better long-term outcomes (low thrombosis and low restenosis rates) for patients. This is imperative to keep the innovation momentum going, the Federation said in a statement.