CT scan, MRI will become cheaper if equipment get ‘drug’ tag

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on June 26, 2018 Published on June 26, 2018

In a bid to make expensive health procedures, including CT scans, MRI and dialysis cheaper, a new Health Ministry proposal, in effect, aims to bring the prices of diagnostic equipment under control.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), an arm of the Ministry, has proposed to notify eight medical devices — all implantable medical devices, CT scan equipment, MRI equipment, defibrillators, dialysis machines, PET equipment, X-Ray machines and bone-marrow cell separator as ‘drugs,’ under Section 3 of Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

The proposed notification will be finalised in 21 days, after inviting comments and suggestions from all stake holders, official sources said.

Public health experts said this is the first step towards widening the ambit of price control.

Currently, up to 23 medical devices, including cardiac stents, orthopaedic implants, heart valves, intra-ocular lenses, hypodermic needles and syringes, have been notified as ‘drugs,’ under the Act.

However, of the 23 devices, only five, such as heart stents and knee implants, are under any price control.

Intra-ocular lenses and some others do not have any price control. The list of these 23 medical devices is being updated to add eight more devices. The move will come into force after a year of the notification being published in the gazette, said S Eswara Reddy, Drug Controller General of India.

More power for NPPA

This will arm the currently sidelined National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority to look into a ceiling price for these, fix trade margins, and generally curb on runaway pricing, experts say.

“At present, a CT scan machine with a landing cost of ₹3-4 crore is sold to a hospital or a diagnostic facility at up to ₹6 crore. The distributors are hogging huge trade margins in the transaction. This, in a trickle-down effect, leads to high costs on procedures for the patient,” said S Srinivasan, co-convenor of the All India Drug Action Network.

“It is a good move and it needs to be followed by fixing ceilings on the price of related medical procedures using these devices,” he added.

Published on June 26, 2018
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