Now, Centre caps knee implant fees

Courtesy Vimeo

This move comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the nation of bringing down the prices of knee surgery on the occasion of India's 71st Independence Day. "Also, the Government and NPPA should ensure that healthcare providers are given some incentive for operating in areas that have no specialised care and have to deal with procurement of the implants, lack of vendors and making the doctors available", he added.

He however noted that the quality for revision knee replacement surgeries may get affected as prices for this procedure, which is more complex requiring the surgeon to remove the original implant which would have grown into the existing bone, can not be fixed as different systems and parts may be required which can not be predicted before the surgery.

Special knee implants for cancer or tumours will follow the prices of revision knee implants, NPPA said.

"After cardiac stents, we have now made a decision to bring knee implants under price control", Ananth Kumar said, while addressing the press conference.

"It is noticed that orthopaedic-knee implants are having unjustified, unreasonable and irrational high trade margins leading to their exorbitant prices which affects the out of pocket expenses of patients and lakhs of patients are not able to pay for arthroplasty procedures because of these exorbitant prices and suffering in pain", the order states.

Most of such knee implants are imported in India.

Price cap on orthopaedic knee implants was imminent following an analysis by the price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) that showed manufacturers, distributors and hospitals doing unethical mark-ups on widely used devices. The move is expected to save an estimated Rs. 1,500 crore annually. They are indulging in unethical profiteering.

The Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO) of 2013 authorises the Central Government to fix the ceiling price or retail price of any drug (or notified medical devices) under "extraordinary circumstances" and "if it considers necessary so to do in public interest". "We appeal to the Government to implement proposed Sudhanshu Pant committee recommendations that will give much needed relief to the poor and control medical corruption to some extent". This knee implant enjoys 80% of the market share. The implant used to cost about Rs 1.6 lakh earlier.

The NPPA decided on the new prices after months of extensive research, said its chairman Bhupendra Singh. The new ceiling price for Titanium and Oxidised Zirconium implants is 69% lesser than its earlier average MRP. Importers, distributors and hospitals had margins ranging from 67 per cent to as high as 449 per cent on orthopaedic knee implants.

Special metal and high flexibility knee implants account for another 17 per cent of the market.

As for the revision knee replacement system, femoral component of any material will be Rs 62,770, while the prices for similar surgery of tibial component of any material will be capped at Rs 31,220. Earlier, such implants were sold at Rs 2.5-4.5 lakh.

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