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Coronary stents in essential medicines list, to get cheaper- The New Indian Express

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Union health ministry has notified the inclusion of coronary stents in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022, making these life-saving devices more affordable. The decision to retain coronary stents in the list was taken following recommendations of the Standing National Committee on Medicines (SNCM), which based its opinion on the views of subject experts who were invited from across the country, Dr Y K Gupta, Vice Chair National Standing Committee on Medicine and Healthcare Products, told TNIE. 

“The committee recommended it, and the ministry agreed to include it in the list,” Gupta added. On November 6, the SNCM submitted its recommendation to retain coronary stents in the NLEM, 2022 in two categories – Bare Metal Stents (BMS) and Drug Eluting Stents (DES), which include metallic DES and bioresorbable vascular scaffold (VBS)/biodegradable stents. Now, both BMS and DES will come the under price control, thus allowing the NPPA the flexibility to further cap stent prices which have already been slashed significantly in the past. It was notified as a ‘drug’ under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and was thus included in the NLEM.

“When any drug is in the national list of essential medicines, the mandate is the product will become available at an affordable cost, is of quality and is accessible, thus helping reduce out-of-pocket expenditure,” Gupta said. The list was last revised in 2015. It includes medicines that treat prevalent diseases such as fever, infections, heart diseases, hypertension, kidney dysfunction, tuberculosis, diabetes, skin diseases and blood disorders, and cancer.

NPPA slashed the costs of coronary stents as soon as the device was included in the list. Despite pressure, the government reduced the price of DES, initially available for over Rs 1 lakh, to around Rs 27,000 and is expecting to go down further.

The list, which Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya announced on September 13, included 384 drugs, of which 34 new drugs were added. These had cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other critical ailments. The list dropped 26 different medicines. After the revision, 384 drugs for 27 therapeutic categories are now in the list of essential medicines. The popular antacid Ranitidine has been taken off the list because of concerns that it causes cancer. 

The other 25 drugs like Sucralfate, Atenolol and Methyldopa have also been removed as cost effective and better options for these medicines are now available. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally. An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32 per cent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85 per cent were due to heart attack and stroke.

Affordable life-saving devices

Prices of Drug Eluting Stents came down to Rs 27,000 and is expected to fall further

Dropped Drugs

  • Ranitidine
  • Sucralfate
  • Atenolol
  • Methyldopa

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