Steep Price of Medical Devices: Government-Driven Price Controls can Reduce Medical Bills

Medical Devices

In emerging countries, where the majority of the population does not get access to quality healthcare services, steep prices of medical devices add to the woes of patients. For example, in India, patients pay more than 700% of the imported cost of stent; a patient needs to shell out a whopping INR 1.55 lakh for a stent with a base price of INR 25,000. The scenario looks especially bad when one realizes that India is home to around 1.3-4.6 million patients suffering from cardiovascular conditions.

The need to create patient-friendly healthcare infrastructure with affordable treatment opportunities is the primary reason driving the governments across emerging countries to control the prices of medical devices.

Policy to Control Price of Medical Devices- India Takes a Step

After receiving increasing complaints about over priced medical devices such as implants and cardiac stents, the Indian government is introducing a series of measures to regulate the medical devices industry in the country.  Under the Essential Commodities Act, the government intends to cut down the prices of stents to half. In June this year, the government drafted a medical device policy that listed the measures to be taken to control prices of the medical devices such as tax concessions, funding for startups, and creation of skill development committee to bolster the nation’s medical technology workforce.

The government is also planning to create an autonomous body–the National Medical Devices Authority–to control the prices of medical devices.Moreover, floating a separate pricing division in the drug pricing regulator, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), is on the cards.

Domestic Manufacturing of Medical Devices: A Way to Boost Economy of Emerging Nations

For an emerging country, imports of costly medical devices dent the overall economy. The governments in developing economies are increasingly stressing on domestic manufacturing of medical devices. In India, if the drafted medical device policy comes into force, it would benefit the Indian medical device manufacturers with long-term tax breaks and the elimination of import duties on raw materials.

According to the latest data revealed by Cardiological Society of India (CSI), a large number of stents used across hospitals last year were made in India. The increased usage of domestic stents in the hospitals can be attributed to their low cost. However, doctors are not sure about the efficacy of such stents. Poor-quality stents at low costs will hamper the growth of the medical devices industry in the nation. The imported stents undergo prolonged duration of safety and clinical trials. The domestic stent manufacturers need to emulate the standards set by their international counterparts to increase the adoption of locally-made stents.

Price Control of Medical Devices: Is it a Threat to Foreign Players?

Not everyone is in agreement when it comes to the price control of medical devices. Price limits on medical devices might threaten the entry of foreign players into the market. The Indian government has recently allowed 100% foreign direct investment for setting up domestic manufacturing for medical devices. If the government controls the price of the medical devices, it might pull away the foreign manufacturers from setting up their units in India.


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