Abbott (NYSE:ABT) yesterday denied reports that it’s pulling its high-end coronary stents from India’s market, after the government there put price caps in place for a variety of medical devices and drugs, including stents.
India’s National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority last week issued an order capping the price of stents at about $108 (Rs 7,260) for bare-metal devices and $442 (Rs 29,600) for drug-eluting and bioresorbable stents like Abbott’s Absorb, which sells for $2,835 (Rs 190,000) in India.
But an Abbott spokeswoman told MassDevice.com via email that there are no plans to remove products from the Indian market.
“Abbott continues to market our full range of coronary stents available in India, per the NPPA order of Feb 13, 2017. In certain cases, we had initiated the process of relabeling to comply with the revised pricing notified by the government order of Feb 13. We have also advised trade partners and hospital partners to abide by the ceiling prices determined by the NPPA order,” Kristina Becker wrote via email.
“Medtronic remains committed to the millions of patients whose lives have been touched by the company’s innovative products, services and solutions. We have not taken any decision on withdrawal of any product,” Wendy Dougherty wrote, also via email.
India’s government is not likely to stop at regulating stent prices. Some 14 other devices, including orthopedic implants, intraocular lenses and replacement heart valves, could reportedly face price caps. The caps could also cover consumables such as syringes, needles and catheters, according to the Times of India.
“We are collecting data on these devices on a war footing. It will give us a fair idea about the volume of consumption, cost of manufacturing and price at which they are supplied to a patient. Exorbitant pricing in the health system will be dealt with strongly,” Bhupendra Singh, chairman of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, told the newspaper.
“We did an elaborate study before cracking the whip on stents. When an original manufacturer sells a product, the cost of innovation, packaging and everything else is built into it. The importer spends nothing on R&D or packaging. Their money is only spent on marketing, paying commissions and distorting the system. With price-capping, affordability will increase,” Singh said.
Abby Pratt, vice president, global strategy & analysis at AdvaMed, told us that the U.S. trade group is “deeply disappointed” by the price caps.
“This notification completely disregards all stakeholders representations on the need to differentiate stents, based on their technological differences. While the intent is to cap prices in patient interest, this pricing has the potential to block innovations and limit access to world-class medical care and options to deserving patients. The singular focus on controlling ceiling price of stents, without attempting to address the larger picture and correct inefficiencies in the healthcare ecosystem, will not achieve its stated benefit, in the long run,” Pratt wrote in an email.
“The decision also disregards the evolution of coronary stents over the last 4 decades, and blocking innovation may set our health care sector back by at least a decade, when there were far lesser options for Indian patients. There is a clear, measurable difference between different types of stents and their benefits. The government should have taken this categorization into consideration before regulating prices. Unavailability of choice and access to the latest generation of stents might mean an exodus of patients to other or neighboring countries, thus defeating the intent of making heart care more affordable. For the long-term well-being of the patients, it is imperative for all stakeholders, including the policy makers and the industry, to work together for providing better quality of care, service, technology, science, innovation, physician education and training, all of which benefit the patient and the nation,” she said.