A research paper made by state government doctors and high-ranking bureaucrats show the impact of price control on health care products. The use of drug-eluting stents (DES) among poor cardiac patients has increased from 40% to 70% as these have become cheaper.
Maharashtra took up price control strategies in 2014 after it introduced free health insurance for families that earn less than Rs 1 lakh per annum. It invited tenders from various companies for DES and managed to get the latest generation stents for around Rs 30,000 from 2014-15. After this Centre capped the price of stents at Rs 29,600 in 2017.
The proportion of DES use rose in the overall study population from 40.7% to 71.3% after institution of the price reduction strategy,” said the paper. The cardiologist Bhanu Duggal said, “By the price-lowering strategy, millions of people of lower socio-economic strata suddenly had access to the best drug-eluting stents.”
The study, though, found that the use of DES continued to be lower despite the price reduction in vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women, and the poorly educated.
A previous study last year by the same doctors found that the use of DES
Dr Brahmajee Nallamothu from the University of Michigan, who is also an author in the study, said “Stents are a cornerstone therapy for coronary artery disease, a growing problem in India. In Western countries, DES are the most common type of stent used. But their high costs have led to limited access among low-income patients in India, but the study shows improved access,”.