India finally includes heart stents among essential medical items, draws industry flak

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India has finally decided to place caps on the prices of at least two categories of heart stents with the issue going back and forth for the past year. The move drew brickbats from a manufacturing industry lobby group.

The two categories--drug-eluting and bare metal--heart stents will be included in the country's National List of Essential Medicines, according to the Economic Times, setting the stage for the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority to set price caps that could see a drop of 40% to 70% from current levels, according to earlier reports.

The decision to include stents in the essential category of medicines and devices comes as coronary disease in India rises as a public health hazard, with the cost of the devices playing a key factor in seeking surgery for patients paying out-of-pocket.

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A sub-committee of expert cardiologists had recommended the caps and the details on pricing are expected soon.

In a press release, the Confederation of Indian Industry said the move was counterproductive to efforts to encourage medical device manufacturing in the country--a key aim of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"(The move) is detrimental to the nascent medical device industry committed to improve access to quality healthcare and medical devices in India," the industry body said in a statement.

As well, a lobby group for multinational device makers such as Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) and Medtronic ($MDT), the Advanced Medical Technology Association, criticized the decision as not taking quality variations into account.

At stake is a market that has trebled over the last 5 years in India, the newspaper said, citing the National Interventional Council, with 500,000 stents implanted in 2015.

Current prices for drug-eluting stents in India ranged between INR23,625 ($351.77) to INR150,000 ($2,233.50), the newspaper said, adding they account for 95% of the stents used in surgery cases.

- here's the story from the Economic Times

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