Capping stent prices to affect patients, slab pricing right way: Ramadoss

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Chennai, April 28
The central government’s move to cap the stent prices may backfire and affect Indian patients and also the medical tourism potential, former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said on Friday.
He also said making doctors prescribe drugs by their generic names was a good move but the issue of drug quality check had to be strengthened.
Ramadoss, a qualified medical doctor, told IANS that “capping the prices of stents may make manufacturers exit the Indian market which in turn would affect the patients”.
According to him, Indian patients would be affected to a large extent and so would be in-bound medical tourism (foreign patients coming to India for surgeries/treatment) into India.
“The government should have stipulated prices on slab basis. There should be two or three slabs on pricing of stents,” Ramadoss said.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority capped the prices of drug eluting stents (DES) and bioresorbable stents at Rs 29,600, and that of bare metal stents at Rs 7,260 in February-excluding local taxes. The medical devices industry had suggested to the government that the stent’s average price to the hospital should be the basis for arriving at the price band. Ramadoss, a Lok Sabha member of the PMK from Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri, agreed with the industry’s fear that companies may reduce their research and development (R&D) spend and exit the Indian market if the revised prices do not cover even the cost.
Terming the Centre’s move to make doctors prescribe drugs by their generic name and not by their brand name as “good”, Ramadoss said quality checks of drugs made in India have to beefed up.
“The drug quality is a state subject in India. In India checking drug quality is an issue,” he said.
According to him, the chemist will now try to push products of those manufacturers who give him higher margins.
In a recent report, investment banking firm Jefferies had said: “In our view, without steps for improving quality standards for drugs available in the market, the move will not have much material impact and will shift power from doctors to pharmacists.” According to Jefferies, transition to generics is a long term aim where the first step needs to be quality.

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