The government has reached out to drug and hospital regulators as well as pricing officials to ensure availability of coronary stent after the country’s drug pricing regulator slashed their prices by up to 85%.
There have been reports of “artificial” shortage of stents since National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) capped prices of these life-saving devices this week, the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers said in a letter to the health ministry, drug regulator and National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority on Thursday.
Ministry officials told ET that those engaged in such practices will face dire consequences.
The ministry’s department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) wrote to the health ministry secretary CK Mishra, Drug Controller General of India GN Singh and NPPA chairman Bhupendra Singh to remedy any instances of stent shortages following NPPA’s price caps. “There are some reports regarding shortage of coronary stents in the markets/hospitals,” it said.
ET reviewed a copy of the letter.
A coronary stent is a wire mesh tube used to unclog blockages in coronary arteries and prevent heart attacks. NPPA on Tuesday capped the prices of drug-eluting stents and bioresorbable vascular scaffolds at Rs 31,080 and bare-metal stents at Rs 7,623, including VAT.
DoP has requested the health ministry to take “necessary action” to ensure adequate availability of coronary stents at hospitals.
It can take action in case companies discontinue stents without six months’ advance notice and also direct companies to continue supply for at least a year from when they disclose their intent to discontinue the product.
He said the government would also use various provisions of the Essential Commodities Act to penalise those found illegally and unethically profiteering or hoarding stents. In some cases, violators could also be blacklisted, Prakash said.
“The government has taken all steps to ensure that stent price capping benefits are passed on to the patients and no artificial shortage created,” it said.