Acting swiftly on PM Narendra Modi’s Independence Day promise to take steps to rein in healthcare costs, the government on 16 August 2017 said it is placing knee implants under price control. The government has slashed the prices of knee implants by between 59% and 69% using a special provision in the drug pricing law that enables it to intervene in “extraordinary circumstances” in public interest. The move is expected to benefit over three crore arthritis patients in India needing knee replacement surgery.
Official sources said hip implants and intraocular lenses are the next items likely to attract the attention of the regulatory scanner. In its edition of August 5, 2017, that a price cap on orthopaedic knee implants was imminent following an analysis by the price regulator that showed manufacturers, distributors and hospitals were earning up to 450% trade margins on widely used devices. The standard, widely used cobalt chromium in knee replacement surgery will now cost Rs 54,720 as against an earlier MRP of Rs 1,58,324. Similarly, the price of special metals like titanium and oxidised zirconium have been slashed by almost 70%, to Rs 76,600 from Rs 2.49 lakh. In case of revision knee replacement, which is usually done if the primary replacement fails, prices of implants have been cut by 59%.
The regulator national pharmaceutical pricing authority finds that it is urgently necessary to act in public interest and has fixed and notified ceiling prices of orthopaedic knee implants for knee replacement systems, the order issued by the department of pharmaceuticals said.
“The government will not be a mute spectator to illegal and unethical profiteering,” chemicals and fertilisers minister Ananth Kumar said. He added the government would take stringent action against hospitals, importers and retailers if they charged in excess of the MRP fixed by the government.
According to government estimates, the price regulation of knee implants alone will lead to a saving of about Rs 1,500 crore annually for patients.