Heart rending story of a poor man’s Stent nipped in the bud

Late APJ Abdul Kalama’s heart was first to bleed at exorbitant stents’ deep wound on the patients’ pocket

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New Delhi: Late APJ Abdul Kalam was perhaps the first man whose heart bled to see exorbitant stents’ deep wounds on hapless heart patients.

But the greedy triad of Multinational Companies (MNCs), corporate hospitals and cardiologists effectively ‘bypassed’ late president’s bid to make Angioplasty, the procedure using stents to open blocked arteries of hearts, a lot cheaper for the common heart patients. The poor man’s stent that he got created under the moniker Kalam Raju, was nipped in the bud.

Though NPPA (National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority) has proved nemesis for the MNC stent makers, APJ also deserves posthumous thanks for the dramatic slashing of excessive cost of stents under price cap. It seems as if APJ’s benign ghost is stirring NPPA to go for MNC makers’ jugular! Price capping is really a tribute to the late president APJ.

Shocked by the prevailing high cost of stent that ranged between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh, APJ in his DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) days decided, with his friend Hyderabad based Cardiologist Dr Soma Raju, to customise the cost of stents for poor and common heart patients. And in 1998 a low cost bare metal coronary stent which cost bare Rs 8000 came into being. But this stent was never patronized by corporate hospitals. Doctors would not prescribe this dog cheap stent. As a result, plans to do further research and improve the stent had to be shelved.

Though cartel promoting pricey ones ‘stunted’ the growth of Kalam Raju stent, according to the sources of DRDO, about 3000 patients still owe their hearts’ beat to APJ. May be given the environment post capping, this first low cost stent may reprise again. In fact, Kalam Raju stent catalysed and initiated the meltdown of stent from its price cliff.

However, slashing of price of Drug Eluting Stent (DES) again on 12Feb and jacking up of the price of bare stents has indigenous makers of medical devices go gaga over NPPA’s stern stance. All India Medical Devices Manufacturers’ Association (AiMed) has complimented the Government for staying on course on stent pricing and not giving in to the intense lobbying by the US MNCs.

Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, AiMed, in a press release, said. ‘We are happy with NPPA’s new decision to not falling to the massive lobbying of overseas multi-national manufacturers. Single category on DES is scientific and continuation of the above stand gives confidence to the manufacturers’. Mr. Nath added assuring full support and cooperation from Indian manufacturers to the government, consumers and medical professionals’

But indigenous DES stent maker Gurmit Singh Chugh, Managing Director, Translumina Therapeutics LLP, has a little reservation regarding NPPA’s decision. In a missive to Maedicare News, Mr Chug has said, ‘NPPA’s decision shall pinch Domestic companies for their R&D efforts to create global technologies. Nonetheless, we will continue to support Hospitals by ensuring ample supply of high quality products across India.’

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