heart stents,
heart stents,Reuters

India would soon reduce the prices of stents used in procedures for treatment of heart ailments. The union health ministry on Wednesday added coronary stents to the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2015, which would now face a reduction in prices. 

The prices of essential drugs used in the treatment of cancer, diabetes, HIV, coronary heart diseases and hypertension were reduced by the government earlier this year.

The union health ministry has indicated that many other drugs and even medical devices would be brought under price control. The move to bring down the prices of stents comes on expected lines, since a Rajya Sabha committee, after taking feedback from various stakeholders, had said last month that the reduction in the prices of stents is crucial to safeguarding the patients' interests and the industry.

However, the decision has not gone down well with the medical devices industry, which has been demanding separate regulations for medical devices.

Currently, under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), medical devices are regulated in the same manner as drugs. 

AdvaMed, an association representing 300 medical devices manufacturing companies, said in a statement that the government's move  to include stents in the National List of Essential Medicines in order to influence the price of medical devices is detrimental to the nascent medical device industry committed to improve access to quality healthcare in India.

"Singular focus on capping prices of stents by way of their inclusion in NLEM will not help improve access to medical devices for patients, as it will not impact the overall procedure cost and limit the introduction of innovative products," AdvaMed said, adding that according to the World Health Organization, the methodology used for medicines cannot be replicated for medical devices when it comes to "essentiality".

The Association, while quoting the IMS Health data, said that price of stents in India is not the highest contributor to the overall cost of angioplasty, which is a surgical procedure to unblock a heart vessel.