SRINAGAR: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday welcomed slashing of prices of cardiac stents that would bring huge relief to patients burdened by spiralling costs of stents.
Terming the decision extremely significant, President DAK Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement said that more people will now be able to afford this life-saving device.
“The move would put an end to the corrupt practices associated with marketing of stents,” he said.
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) – the drug pricing watchdog – on February 13 has reduced prices of coronary stents by up to 85%, capping them at Rs 7,260 for the bare metal ones and Rs 29,600 for drug eluting variety.
Before the price cut, the cost of drug eluting stent ranged from 45,000 to 1.5 lakh and that of bioresorbable stent ranged from 1.7 lakh to 2 lakhs.
“While the stents have gone cheaper, Kashmir hospitals are overcharging and do angioplasty (procedure of placing stent in the artery) at exorbitant rates. In a government hospital, the cost of angioplasty to a patient is between 50,000 to 60,000 and in a private hospital it is between 80,000 to 1 lakh,” he said.
Dr Nisar said the most striking revelation that came to light through extensive deliberations of NPPA was about the massive cuts being taken by cardiologists and hospitals.
“According to data shared by NPPA, prices of stents jump exponentially by as much as 1000% from the production till the time it reaches patients, with hospitals and doctors enjoying abnormally high margin of 650%, in some cases. These unethical and criminal practices are pushing patients to financial misery.”
“While the move will save lives, the industry is trying to sabotage the move. Following price ceiling, many companies have withdrawn the stocks, creating false shortage of stents leaving patients in deep lurch,” he said.
He said Coronary artery disease has become a major health problem and stent implantation is a life-saving treatment. “A stent is a tube-shaped device used to open up blocked coronary arteries to ensure blood flow to heart preventing heart attack and death,” he said.