Now, India's drug pricing regulator, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), has further reduced the ceiling prices of the most commonly used drug-eluting stent (DES) by 5.8 per cent as it pursues the policy of price controls on coronary stents, saying it is in "larger public interest".
A stent is a small mesh tube that's used to keep narrow or weak arteries open for blood flow.
NPPA has increased the price of bare metal stents to Rs 7,660 from Rs 7,260 and reduced the price of drug-eluting and biodegradable stents to Rs 27,890 from Rs 29,600.
These prices are excluding GST, which is charged at 5 per cent.
The NPPA also ruled against a request by multinational stent makers for a new category for advanced stents. Representatives of the firms in a meeting with the NPPA on February 5 demanded that there should be differential pricing for advanced stents.
The latest order will remain valid till March 31, 2019.
NPPA Chairman Bhupendra Singh told NDTV that it is important that stent prices in India are kept under check to avoid people being charged at exorbitant rates as seen in the past.
The regulatory move will also deter unethical profiteering, which puts a burden on out-of-pocket expenses of patients and their families.
NPPA's original price cut imposed in February 2017 had already lowered the prices of stents. Before that cap, bare metal stents sold for Rs 45,000 and drug-eluting stents for Rs 1.21 lakh.
The All India Drug Action Network has welcomed the latest NPPA move. "We are glad that the government did not cave to massive pressure that was being exerted by the industry for differential pricing without any scientific basis," the network said in a statement.
"There ought to be an investigation on large hospital chains for abusing their dominant position and overcharging for angioplasties post the price cap," it said.