Pune: The year 2017 has seen one applauding effort from the government to cap the prices of stents and other orthopaedic equipment for patients. However, overcharging and expensive implants are rampant in private establishments.
Taking a stand of overcharging of knee implants, Ananth Kumar, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, in August noted that the overcharging will be strictly monitored and penalised.
“The government has fixed the ceiling prices of orthopaedic implants used in knee surgeries. Based on the numbers, about 1 to 1.5 lakh orthopaedic knee procedures are done in India every year. There will be a saving of about Rs 1,500 crore for the people of India per annum. It is a step to prevent unethical profiteering and ensure affordable and quality healthcare for the last man,” added Kumar.
He also noted that as per data analysis of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, there was a huge margin in trade which was found to be unreasonable and in a way unethical ‘profiteering’.
The NPPA, while fixing the ceiling prices, has kept all new technology implants in mind and prices have been fixed accordingly, said Kumar.
However, there have been mixed reactions from the medical fraternity. Expressing concern about government fixing ceiling prices of knee implants may not necessarily benefit the patients, Dr Nitin Bhagali, a city-based orthopedist said that Indian patients opt for total knee replacement at a much later date when their deformities are advanced.
“Many deformities need special augmentation of the ordinary prosthesis. There is no mention of such augmented primary knees in the notification. Many multinational companies have come with a wide range of sizes of both thigh (femur) and leg bone (tibia) caps to suit the needs of Indian patients and especially women whose sizes pose a challenge for a good fit. These advanced versions are very expensive and may be totally withdrawn from Indian market like drug eluding stents due to this capping,” said Bhagali.
In the arguments by the government as well as medical fraternity, the common man still suffers from overcharging and expensive treatment in private hospitals.