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Heart stents to cost more; NPPA allows price revision

India has a high prevalence of coronary heart diseases (CAD) or artery blockages and the number has rising quite noticeably. Unfortunately, even as cases rise, so will the heart patients’ medical bills as the maximum selling price of stents is set to rise.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) regulates the costs of heart stents based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), which measures inflation based on the cost of goods before they reach consumers. With the rising inflation, the drug regulator has allowed the revision of prices for 2024.

The two types of stents — bare metals and DES — are mostly imported. “One unit of Bare Metal Stent (BMS) currently costs ₹10,509.79 while the Drug Eluting Stents (DES) including metallic DES and Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffold (BVS)/ Biodegradable Stents cost ₹ 38267.18 based on the WPI at 0.00551 of year 2023 over 2022,” a NPPA notification stated this year.

A stent is used to provide support when the arteries are blocked or narrowed and the blood flow is inadequate. It helps supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

In 2023, BMS per unit was priced at ₹10,509.20, and DES, BVS cost ₹ 38,265.07, based on the WPI at 12.12% for year 2022 over 2021. In 2019, the hike of cardiac stents was 4.26% as per the WPI of the previous year.

“In the past few years, the cost of these bare and DES/BVS stents has increased only by ₹3,200 and ₹9,000 respectively,” said Abhay Kumar, the National President of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association. The total cost incurred by the patients depends on the units of stents the surgery required.

To keep the price of imported stents in control, NPPA took over the regulations in 2023. “It is still in the power of the organisations and hospitals to subsidise the costs,” Kumar added.

On a positive note, the stent manufacturing setup in India is under process. In the next three years, they will be manufactured in India and the prices are expected to be accommodative.

“Once the production units are set up, the BMS and DES will cost a maximum ₹3,000 to ₹7,000 respectively,” says Kumar.

In the month of March, the NPPA also revised the cost of 700 drugs due to inflation. CNBCTV18

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