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Drug price regulator wants government to ensure stents supply (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III)

What is a Stent?
A stent is a tiny tube-shaped device placed in narrowed or blocked coronary arteries to maintain blood supply.

Why is the reason behind shortage of stents?
The Indian drug price regulator has asked the department of pharmaceuticals to ensure the availability of coronary stents in the wake of reports that manufacturers may be creating an artificial shortage after stent prices were slashed by up to 85% earlier this week.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has asked the government to invoke Para 3 of the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) to direct manufacturers and importers to maintain production, import and supplies of stents at the pre-price cap level, according to NPPA’s official Twitter handle. A stent is a tiny tube-shaped device placed in narrowed or blocked coronary arteries to maintain blood supply.

Provisions to ensure supply under DPCO
Para 3 of DPCO states that the government may direct any manufacturer to increase production and supply of a product in order to achieve adequate availability and regulate distribution in case of an emergency or in circumstances of urgency or in case of non-commercial use in public interest.

After the government’s decision to slash prices and enforce a single ceiling price for all the different variants of drug-eluting stents, manufactures and distributors started pulling off the high-end stents across the country, several media reports indicated.

Background
On 13 February, NPPA fixed ceiling prices of bare metal stents at Rs7,260 per unit and those of drug-eluting stents and biodegradable stents at Rs29,600 per unit in a bid to provide affordable treatment to patients. The ceiling prices came into effect immediately and were also applicable to all stocks in the trade channel.



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