Concern raised over inclusion of stents in NLEM

New Delhi, Jul 23 : The Union government recently added coronary stents to the national list of essential medicines (NLEM) 2015, effectively bringing them under price control. NATHEALTH, which is a unique forum comprising of both Healthcare Providers and Medical Technology Companies is strongly opposing this move, which is contradictory to the Government's recently expressed desire to separate medical devices from drugs by proposing a new act that is proposed to be tabled in the upcoming Winter Session. Additionally, the Committee of experts constituted by MoHFW, in its report of Ministry of Health has indicated its desire to bring other cardiology products under NLEM as well. The reason cited for this action is the Government's desire to improve the number of percutaneous cardiac interventions (Angioplasty). A Coronary Stent is an essential device for ensuring optimal outcomes for coronary / cardiac procedures. Selecting the appropriate stent for each procedure should be the choice of patients and medical practitioners in order to ensure such optimal outcomes. Bringing stents under the ambit of a pharmaceutical-style pricing control regimewill restrict their inflow and usage into India, and thus, negatively impact patient choice and outcomes. Additionally, NATHEALTH also feels this will impact India's Industry friendly image globally and adversely impact the 'Make in India' efforts in the medical technology domain. "The Government's move to include stents in the NLEM is not consistent with the stated direction of separating medical devices from drugs and will limit choice for patients in selecting the most appropriate option in complicated cardiac procedures," said Rahul Khosla, NATHEALTH's President. "We have been constantly engaging with several Government Agencies to explain that due to their uniqueness, medical devices cannot be treated through policies and frameworks made for pharmaceutical products. However the notification on 19th July shows that we still have some work to do," said Anjan Bose, Secretary General - NATHEALTH. "Medical procedures in India are among the most affordable in the world, which is a combination of cost of devices and services. Any notification should be considered only if it can bring down the overall cost of treatment for the patient without denying them the options to avail the treatment of their choice. Additionally, such notifications significantly impact the 'Make in India' attractiveness of the country," said Milan Rao, Chairman, Medical Technology Forum - NATHEALTH.