NEW DELHI: A meeting called by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry to review medical device price control measures, ahead of PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, caused strong reactions among patient groups with some calling it “outrageous.”
Since 2017, when India first introduced major price control for medical devices, the US has been pressing India not to extend price caps to other devices and even introduce differential pricing to “technologically advanced” ones.
“The discussion largely centred on how medical device makers are getting badly affected due to the government move and how it could get worse further if it does not relent,” said a source present at the meeting on Tuesday in which US ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster also participated.
Representatives of industry bodies, cardiologists and device makers, apart from senior government officials, were other participants.
The government had, in 2017, slashed prices of medical devices such as knee implants and heart stents by up to 75% to make them more affordable. Subsequent studies have shown the move resulted in immense benefit to a large number of patients.
But the 5 billion Indian medical-technology industry-which includes major US firms such as Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific Corp and Johnson & Johnson-had been opposing the move arguing that these moves, hurt innovation, profits and future investment.
Patient right groups, however, said Tuesday’s meeting an unwanted “US interference in India’s internal policymaking”.
Currently, 23 medical devices have been notified as drugs and are regulated under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Of these, only four-cardiac stents, drug-eluting stents, condoms and intra-uterine devices-are included in the National List of Essential Medicines and are subject to notified price caps.
In 2017, knee implants were brought also brought under price control under para 19 of the Drugs (Price Control) Order, 2013. The remaining medical devices are not under any form of price regulation.