Times of India

NEW DELHI: The prices of all medical devices except for stents, condoms and intrauterine devices can only be raised by up to 10% in a year, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) said in a new office order on Friday.

The drug price regulator also clarified that all medical devices notified as drugs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, including stents, orthopaedic implants, catheters and intra-ocular lenses, will have to mandatorily carry their maximum retail price (MRP) on their packs.

While the government has notified 22 medical devices as drugs under the Act, the prices of stents, condoms and intrauterine devices are capped by the NPPA directly, and companies manufacturing or selling these products have to take permission from the regulator before implementing any hike. However, for other ‘non-scheduled’ products, the regulator has allowed an annual increase of 10% in prices. For any hike beyond the limit, companies will have to seek permission from the regulator.

Cautioning companies against overcharging consumers, the regulator said it was closely monitoring prices of not only scheduled but also non-scheduled products, and any violation would attract severe action and penalty under the Essential Commodities Act.

Several leading hospitals have already come under the NPPA’s scanner for allegedly overcharging consumers for stents after their prices were fixed mid-February. The regulator has issued showcause notices to many hospitals, and some have also been audited.

Meanwhile, the Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI) has asked the Centre to ensure a conducive business environment. Emphasising the need to recognise the efforts of global medical devices firms, MTaI said, “The government must not undercut the market dynamics. The control of stent prices in the manner it has been done, with a shocking reduction, may unfavourably skew the market for the patient and will affect adversely the business environment.” The NPPA has capped the price of bare metal stents at Rs 7,260, and that of drug-eluting and biodegradable stents at Rs 29,600.