500,000 Cardiac stents were implanted in India in 2015…
With a significant increase in heart ailments, usage of stents in India has grown tremendously. Stents are used in Angioplasty which is a non-invasive method to treat heart blockages. During Angioplasty a balloon is inflated in the artery to open up the artery and improve the blood flow. The balloon is then deflated and a stent is then placed in position to ensure that the artery continues to remain open. Angioplasty can be done for one-, two- or three-vessel blockages and convalescence is also fast. For best results, stenting should be done within 6 hours of a heart attack.
There has been continuous advancement in stents for improved performance. Bare metal stents are the most economical and were the first to be developed, but are not preferred nowadays. While in use inside the body, narrowing of artery used to occur (known as restenosis) at the location of bare metal stent itself, in certain number of cases. To tackle this problem, drug-eluting stents were developed, which release a drug slowly while it is in position inside the human body.
The latest development is bio-degradable stent or bio-absorbable stent which is made of polylactide, a common material in used dissolving sutures, allowing it to be resorbed by the body over time, leaving behind a treated blood vessel free to move, flex, pulsate and dilate. This stent starts dissolving after a year and by two years it's gone completely.
Ensure that hospitals do not charge high charges for stents…
Most of the Angiplasties involve drug-eluting stents which cost upto Rs 1.5 Lakhs in private hospitals and upto Rs 60,000 in Government hospitals. Bio-degradable stents (also known as bio-absorbable vascular scaffold - BVS) are expensive and cost above Rs 2 Lakhs. The very high cost of imported stents is on account of hefty margins added by all the three entities in the supply chain viz.the importer, distributor and finally the hospital.
If your relative or friend has to go in for an Angioplasty, you can opt for drug-eluting stent imported from Abbott (Brands: Xience-V, Xience Prime, Xpedition), Medtronic (Brands: Resolute, Resolute Integrity) or Boston Scientific (Brands: Promus Element, Promus Element +, Promus Premier). If the doctor or hospital permits, you can consider a stent manufactured in India which costs much less at Rs 12,000 to Rs 30,000. However, it is to be noted that despite higher costs, doctors prefer imported stents since they believe that safety of these stents is supported by vast amount of test data. Bio-absorbable stents are not made in India.
To enable you to contact the stent suppliers for ascertaining prices, we are providing their contact particulars in Resources below. In view of public outcry over high stent prices, Government of India has recently added stents to the national list of essential medicines. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has recommended that manufacturers and importers of stents should print Maximum Retail Price (MRP) on the original pack of the stent. Such a step, when implemented, would put an end to the present practice of arbitrarily jacking-up prices. There is a possibility that Government may even place a cap on stent prices.
Stents and medicines at 50-60% discount...
Govt of India, Ministry of Health has launched a programme called AMRIT (Affordable Medicines & Reliable Implants for Treatment) under which pharmacies in Govt-run hospitals will sell stents, implants as well as cardiovascular and cancer drugs at prices 50-60% cheaper than market prices. Presently these outlets are operational at AIIMS, RML and Safdarjung Hospitals in Delhi and Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai.
The Government has also launched 'Jan Aushadi' stores which will offer 439 life-saving medicines, including cancer and cardio-vascular drugs, as well as 250 medical devices like stents and implants. Over 3,000 'Jan Aushadi' stores should be operational across the country by 2017.