Patients Face Stent Shortage

There are reports of shortage of coronary stents in the market after the announcement of the price cap on stents by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).


NPPA on 14 February has capped the prices of coronary stents and price reduction ranges from an average Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of Rs.1,21,000 to Rs.31,000 for Drug Eluting Stents.

Prices of all Drug Eluting Stents were fixed at Rs 29,600 and those of Bare Metal Stents at Rs 7,260. This meant a price reduction of around 85 per cent. Before the revision, stents were sold at anything between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1,80,000.

People in distress are allegedly not getting stents as the manufacurers, importers and distributors are allegedly trying to create artifical shortage in the market.

A stent is a tube shaped device placed in arteries that supply blood to heart.

This is detrimental to the Public Health since Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is life threatening disease.

There are complaints that the manufacturers recalling or re-labelling or re-stickering on the label of container or pack of released stocks in the market prior to date of notification.

But as per NPPA, steps should be taken to ensure that adequate stocks are maintained to avoid shortage of such coronary stents. However, it does not mean that revised prices get deferred for the stock in circulation.

The price change takes place with immediate effect, the NPPA pointed out.

NPPA has stated that some companies are now trying to create artificial shortage of stents in market and State Drug Controllers should use their search and seizure powers — provided under Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013 — to deal with it.

Bhupendra Singh, Chairman NPPA has written to the State Government in this regard and urged the authorities of State Health Officials and State Drugs Controller to take care of the problem.

“It has also been informed to the NPPA that some manufacturers /importers/distributors are trying to create artificial shortage of stents. NPPA has advised all state Governments and state drug controllers to proceed under Para 30 of the DPCO, 2013, if required,” the pricing regulator noted on 14 February in one of its office memorandum. Under Para 30 of the DPCO 2013, any designated officer of the government — state or the Centre — can enter any premises and search or seize stents anywhere in the trade channel in order to fully implement the NPPA’s order.
Mr.Singh also said that if the problem is created at Hospital/Cardiac surgeons/doctors, the State Government can declare Cardiac Care Services as “Essential” and can use the powers under Maintenance of Essential Services Act (ESMA) in Public Interest and take immediate action in this regard to ensure Public Health.
Sources said the Department of Health & Family Welfare has taken up steps and meeting the Stakeholders to ensure price compliance of cardiac stents and pass the benefits to the patients.
However, experts feel that in a Free Market Economy, which is market driven, such things is bound to happen. NPPA should have foreseen such a situation before the capping the prices of coronary stents and would have taken measures in this regard.

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