Hospitals grapple with artificial scarcity of stents, angioplasties on hold
The supply of stents to city hospitals has suddenly dried up, in the wake of the central government's decision to regular the prices of stents.
Sources say an artificial scarcity of stents has hit the city after the government's decision, taken to bring the unholy nexus between hospitals, doctors and stent manufacturers under a scanner. Hospital sources say several angioplasties in the city have been put on hold following stoppage of supply of stents by pharma companies like Abbott.
The central government had declared its intention to regulate stent prices nearly four months ago. This move had necessitated re-labelling the stents with new prices, effective February 2017. Health sector activist Umesh Khake says that since the companies have not complied with this directive, an artificial scarcity of stents has been created in the market. Khake says it is now up to the central government to ensure a steady supply of stents to city hospitals till the situation normalises.
Eminent city cardiologist Dr Vijay Surse told Mumbai Live that the scarcity has hit hospitals hard. He believes postponing the angioplasties for want of the stents could have an adverse effect on patients awaiting such surgeries. Meanwhile, Food and Drug Administration joint commissioner (drugs) Vinita Thomas admits that this is an artificially induced scarcity and that FDA officials are scouring city hospitals to assess the situation. Pharma companies have stopped supplying the stents to buy time in order to relabel the products. She added that the situation is likely to improve soon as the companies have been given the option of selling the stents at the new prices without needing to re-label them.
Experts in the medical sector point out that the nexus between doctors-hospitals-pharma companies which discourages the use of generic medicines by patients, is doing the same about the stents. They allege that doctors often discourage the use of Indian stents claiing that the lower prices reflect lower quality.
The government, according to Thomas, is taking all steps to remedy this situation at the earliest.