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P A Francis
Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Last week, the US administration has bluntly asked Indian government not to extend price caps on medical devices and wanted New Delhi to allow the US based companies to withdraw their products from the Indian market if they do not wish to sell these products at government fixed prices. The Union government has slashed prices some of the medical devices such as knee implants and cardiac stents by up to 75 per cent during the current year to make them more affordable to the poor patients. India has been following a policy of fixing ceiling prices of essential and life saving medicines for several years as a measure of regulating profiteering in these products by pharma companies. To some extend, price regulation in essential medicines has been working despite non co-operation by most of the pharma companies. However, the government later found that medical devices is another critical area where the profiteering is going on in much bigger scale than medicines and multinational companies in collusion with hospital managements and physicians are fleecing patients. It is in consideration of this state of affairs, the Central government, for the first time, fixed ceiling prices of coronary stents on February 14 this year followed by price caps on other medical devices. As expected the stent making companies opposed the government move from the beginning, continue to resist the government order and some of them even threatened to withdraw their products from the market.

The US pressure on India comes at a time when the Union government issued an order which effectively barred companies from any immediate withdrawals of cardiac stents or knee implants to ensure adequate availability of these products to patients. Abbott, reportedly, has been approaching government to withdraw one of its stents saying it's not commercially viable under government fixed prices but the plea was rejected. NPPA data clearly shows that cardiovascular stents were being sold to hospitals with very high prices and hospitals add their high markups on top of that. The decision to regulate prices of cardiovascular stents and knee implants is with the intention to put an end to the rampant overcharging and the exploitation of patients by hospitals, doctors and companies. Unfortunately, such patient welfare policies of the government is under attack by the corporates with the support of foreign governments. It is definitely a challenge to the sovereignty of India as a country and needs to be strongly resisted. In the absence of an efficient public healthcare system, over 80 per cent of the people in the country are going to the private healthcare facilities. As the private hospitals and nursing homes are outside any effective regulatory checks in terms of charges for doctors, medical products and services, price control of healthcare products and medical services need to be regulated as that is only effective intervention available to the government.


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M.R.KRISHNAN Jan 17, 2018 2:56 PM
It is time that the CLINICAL EST act with more teeth is Passed by all states, without fail, when such irregularities can be controlled
pradeep Awasthi Nov 4, 2017 7:42 AM
The most recent decision of U.S regarding fixation of price for the Indian and multinational pharma companies to put prohibitions on price caps,which are selling cardiac stents and knee implants.It is equally intimated by U.S to union government to ask U.S companies marketing medical devices to withdraw their operations,if they are unable to comply with ceiling price.it is the decision of Union government who had slashed down the price of cardiac stents and knee implants by 75%,to offer better economy and quality care at affordable prices to poor patients.

This was perhaps a right move as big pharma companies were selling medical devices at much higher prices to the big corporate hospitals and this is further added with price burden of physicians,hospitals and pharmacist which becomes more costlier for patients.In a country like india where more than 80% of people seeks medical care from private corporate hospitals,because of insufficient health care facilities the medi
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