Recently the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has come down heavy on the healthcare industry with regards to the exorbitant pricing of coronary stents. One can imagine what the end consumer/patients has to pay for the stents which are priced to include a profit margin as high as 300-500%. The maximum retail price for bare metal stents (BMS) and drug eluting stents (DES) has now been fixed at Rs.7623/- & Rs.31080/- which earlier had an average price of Rs.45000/- & Rs.121000/- respectively. Though late, nevertheless a welcome step by the authority which is a big relief for cardiac patients.
More good news to come, NPPA is now looking to regulate prices of 14 more medical devices that are rampantly sold at inflated rates. The list may include consumables like orthopaedic implants, intraocular lenses, artificial heart valves, syringes, needles & catheters. In terms of profit margin, a selected imported hip and knee implants sees a profit margin of around 500-800% and Indian implants has a margin of 200-500%.
The medical industry has put forward the reasoning that the prices covers up for the high cost of innovation and research that goes into the product and as such regulating the prices will throttle innovation and research. However the authorities are of the view that all costs including innovation are priced into the product.
As per NPPA’s latest notification, as many as 634 drugs of various strengths produced by firms are ‘suspected’ to be non-compliant with ceiling prices as notified by NPPA.
NPPA has sent a strong message saying that exorbitant pricing in health care system will be dealt with strongly. If the message turns out to be true then cost of healthcare is in for a major change, for good.