Successful capping of cardiac stent prices has now shifted the focus to other crucial medical devices, the margins of which continue to be vastly inflated.
A number of quotation lists given by distributors to hospitals, seen by BusinessLine , throw light on the massive margins that patients are continuing to pay — be it for intraocular lenses, oesophageal and biliary stents, or for knee implants.
In absolute figures, the profits earned by hospitals may be as small as ₹2,500 on an intraocular lens, which are used in cataract patients. However, at a cost price of ₹250 and selling the lens at ₹3,000, the hospitals enjoy over 90 per cent profit margins on these small devices. The profits being earned on other devices, such as knee implant kits, burn a bigger hole in the patients’ pockets.
For example, an uncemented hip implant sold to the hospital at ₹48,000 is sold at a maximum retail price of ₹1.06 lakh — a premium of nearly ₹59,000 and a profit margin of over 55 per cent.
GS Grewal, former President of the Punjab Medical Council, said the massive difference in prices was hurting patient interest, besides furthering corruption.
“The hospitals/doctors show the actual hospital price (on bills) and sell to patient at MRP (maximum retail price). If the price difference is not capped, it would continue to further medical corruption and creation of black money in the industry,” he said.
Prices of medical devices inflate several times from the cost price — between company and distributor, distributor to hospital and finally by the time it reaches the patients. In the case of cardiac stents, prices inflated by up to a 1,000 per cent between the company and patient.
It is understood that the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), which slashed the prices of cardiac stents by as much as 85 per cent, is also considering other life-saving and essential devices for price capping, including oesophageal stents and implants for joint replacements.
The price control moves have, however, come under fire from the industry with companies such as Abbott and Medtronic threatening to pull out their high-end cardiac stents from the Indian market.