Indeed it was a good news that the fixing of coronary stent prices would significantly reduce the harassment of patients. The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) move came a day after Bangladesh Medical Device Importers Association (BMDIA) went on a strike over what it said “misunderstanding with the government” about fixing of prices. The BMDIA stopped supply of stents to hospitals during the strike, putting heart patients’ lives at stake. According to cardiologists, hospitals were charging patients at different rates as patients were in the dark about the actual prices. They used to pay between Tk 80,000 and Tk 1.5 lakh for a drug-eluting stent at public hospitals. In some private hospitals, the cost varied between Tk 1.5 lakh and Tk 2.5 lakh.
According to the DGDA chief, some 21 companies import around 18,000 stents of 47 types annually. The importers have been charging the customers several times higher than the import prices for the life-saving medical device for patients for treating blocked coronary arteries. The importers were making exorbitant profits although all kinds of medical devices are duty-free in Bangladesh.
The anomalies in pricing coronary stents are set to be resolved as the drug administration started fixing the prices of the life-saving medical device for patients with blocked coronary arteries. With the introduction of new rates, prices of most of the stents would come down by 20 to 80 per cent. In some cases, the prices might decline by over 90 per cent. A total of 21 companies import 47 types of stents to the country. The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) has primarily fixed the prices of 26 types of stents of 11 importers.
It is learnt that a group of cardiologists, stent suppliers and drug manufacturers, were making profit out of cardiac patients’ sufferings and vulnerability for decades now in Bangladesh. Plentiful reports were published in the media on ways doctors and hospitals have held patients hostage and over-charged them for stents.
According to a New Age report, a patient of Dhaka was to pay Tk 2.3 lakh for two stents at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases. These longstanding irregularities in the pricing of coronary stents are set to be resolved as the drug administration started setting prices of the life-saving medical device for patients with blocked coronary arteries. The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) introduced new rates and prices of most of the stents.
The BMDIA traders played with the life and death of heart patients, so they should be condemned.
In April 2017 the DGDA said the price of coronary stents could be brought down to half its current price. The comments came following a strike by Medical Accessories Suppliers for a day (April 19), the day after the country’s drug regulator formed a committee on April 18, temporarily setting the maximum retail prices for 28 kinds of stents.
The DGDA for the time being asked importers to keep the price range between Tk25,000 and Tk50,000, until the prices are finalised. All local private and public hospitals would be bound to sell the stents at these prices, stated the committee. DGDA Director General, Maj Gen Mostafizur Rahman said: “It is possible to bring down the stent prices to half. We are working on it, keeping in mind affordability for the masses.”
Najmul A. Khan