Even as stent manufacturers claim huge losses due to recent price controls, shocking statistics tell another tale: apparently, stents in India were among the most expensive, more than US, UK, Germany and Italy.
To put things in perspective, a Drug-Eluting Stent (DES) in the US costs Rs. 62,000-78,000. In UK, they go for Rs. 20,750-30,000. Meanwhile in India, earlier, they cost Rs. 65,000-1.7lakh!
Massive stents scam
The figures get more worrying
DES sells for cheaper in Germany too: the price there is Rs. 14,000, less than half of the ceiling price in India. They pay about Rs. 1,000 less for bare metal stents too.
The figures get more worrying: the US paid about Rs. 68,500-91,000 for bioabsorbable stents. Indians, on the other hand, were charged Rs. 1.9L for Abbot's bioabsorbable stent.
15 Feb 2017
Earlier this year, government slashed prices of stents by 85%
In mid-February, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority slashed stent prices by up to 85%; rates were capped at Rs. 7,260 for bare metal and DES, and Rs. 29,600 for biodegradabale.
The government stated that the cap would save up to Rs. 4,450 crore per year for patients.
Ninety per cent of stents used in India are DES.
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Disturbingly higher prices despite a much larger market in India
India was paying staggeringly higher amounts for stents despite having a much larger market than UK or any other European country.
Compared to the 8,500 sold in India in 2013, in Germany, just 400 bioabsorbable stents were used in Germany in 2014.
Generally, firms sell products for lower rates in bigger markets as the higher number of items sold makes up for smaller margins.
"Why didn't the government act sooner?"
"Why did the government, which knew overpricing was going on, allow firms and hospitals to loot patients for years? The health ministry knew what was happening, which is why they capped stent prices under CGHS at Rs 24,000 in April'14," said a senior cardiologist.
Meanwhile, multinationals struggle against cheaper domestic products
Multinationals are also facing stiff competition from local manufacturers, which sell their products around 30% cheaper.
Manish Doshi, founder of Envison Scientific Private Limited, said their products were always cheaper, "but they become costly when they reach patients in hospitals".
In fact, they have increased their market share from 30% to 40%. Domestic firms are also expecting turnover to increase by up to 150%.