To maintain transparency in the cost of medical equipment and implants, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has uploaded a circular on its website which gives details about the minimum and maximum cost of knee and hip replacement implants.
The circular includes details such as the margin of the importer, margin of distributor and hospital. While the NPPA is yet to decide on capping of these implants, it has asked the stakeholders to respond within a week. This exercise by the NPPA is seen as an attempt to cap the cost of implants required for knee and hip replacements, as it has huge margins, which range from 200 per cent to 500 per cent, making them very expensive for patients and insurers.
“This is a robbery, which is taking place in the light of day by the distribution network through surgeons and hospitals with kickbacks given at all level. The NGO is relentlessly pursuing the capping of all 3,500 to 4,000 medical devices and applying uniform pricing at all places across the country,” said RP Yajurvedi Rao, President, Society for Awareness of Civil Rights in Mumbai.
However, doctors have welcomed this move to make healthcare affordable but insist on improving the quality of implants based on priority.
Dr Pradeep Bhosale, Director of Arthritis and Joint Replacement at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, said, “While the government’s decision to cap the pricing of implants is a welcome move, quality of the product should also be priority.
Dr Bhonsale added, “In hip and knee replacement surgery, our emphasis is on the longevity of an implant. Right now, the FDA of the United States has approved knee and joint implants to have the best standards.”
He explained that if a hip or knee replacement implant undergoes wear and tear within the span of three to four years, the cost of revision surgery is four to five times higher.
“Even the surgical complications and surgical cost is more. We therefore have to ensure that the first surgery last the longest. We need to emphasise on improving the standards of implants made in India,” said Dr Bhosale.
The NPPA has been holding meetings with Indian Orthopaedic Association and manufacturing companies regarding the cost of making the implants, its manufacturing costs, sale volumes, and the number of surgeries of each type across the country.
Dr Sachin Bhonsle, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Mulund said capping the prices of newly introduced implants will benefit patients more. “The prices of previous designs of implants have decreased over a period of time, as the new ones have replaced them. Both old and new implant designs are good but if the government caps the new implants, it will be more beneficial as I feel they are unreasonably priced.”