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Stents to cost less, poor will benefit most

| VRUSHALI PURANDARE
Published : Jul 24, 2016, 12:58 am IST
Updated : Jul 24, 2016, 12:58 am IST

The stents used for people suffering from coronary heart diseases are set to get cheaper in India after the Union health ministry accepted the recommendations of a sub-committee looking into the issue

The stents used for people suffering from coronary heart diseases are set to get cheaper in India after the Union health ministry accepted the recommendations of a sub-committee looking into the issue. The prices of the stents will reduce by 30-40 per cent, bringing some relief to patients.

Along with the stents, the prices of essential drugs — those used for treating aliments like cancer, diabetes, HIV, coronary heart diseases and hypertension will also be reduced later this year.

According to a source in the health ministry, “The sub-committee’s recommendation to include coronary stents in the NLEM (2015) (National List of Essential Medicines) will be operational with immediate effect of the notification to make stent prices uniform.”

A stent is a small mesh tube that is used to treat narrow or weak arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. And the options in India include the old generation bare metal stents, drug-coated or drug-eluting stents (DES) and the next-generation absorbable stents. The price discussion is largely around DES, with prices varying between Rs 80,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh-plus per stent.

According to Dr Vijay Surase, consultant interventional cardiologist at Jupiter Hospital, “ This move is welcomed, but government should implement it as soon as possible. This will benefit the poor patients who can’t bear the cost of stent. There should be uniform costs so that everyone can follow it. Thus it will bring clarity.”

Meanwhile Dr Pratik Soni, cardiologist, said, “Today, hardly 20-30 per cent people can afford stents but if prices become cheaper, 80-90 per cent of people can afford it. Since 10 years China has started manufacturing stents, so Chinese people can afford them and lead a normal life. It happened earlier in USA, China and Europe (making stents accessible to the people) and now its India’s turn to make stents cheaper. When it is cheaper it is more beneficial to all, especially the poor.

All medical facilities such as joints, rod, screws, nuts, any part we put inside our body should be under purview of drug control authority as essential life-saving medicine.”