After stents, the government wants to put more medical devices under price control and even proposes to change the Indian Medical Council Act to make it mandatory for doctors to prescribe generic medicines, health minister J P Nadda said on Wednesday.
Nadda said the ministry has started deliberations and is analysing data to bring more critical medical devices under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM). Once under NLEM, the devices will automatically come under the purview of price control.
“We are looking into it. A committee has already been formed which is evaluating price data,” the minister said. On generic prescription mandatory, he said the Medical Council of India (MCI) is doing the needful and if required, changes may be made to the Indian Medical Council Act.
Though MCI regulations direct doctors should prescribe generic drugs, changes in the law may give more legal teeth to the regulations.
TOI had reported earlier this month how, despite stringent price caps imposed on coronary stents, the nexus between medical device manufacturers and hospitals continues with the two colluding to push non-coronary stents and other high-end life-saving products with huge margins.
Documents with quotations from suppliers to hospitals reviewed by TOI show that medical devices and different kinds of stents — other than coronary, which have been brought under control — are offered to hospitals at prices far lower than that charged from the consumer. Though the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has also asked for pricing data from all medical device manufacturers for all their products, it may be difficult for the authority to impose price caps on such products unless the health ministry brings them under NLEM.
As per the national pharmaceutical pricing policy, only medicines or pharmaceutical products under NLEM fall under Drugs Price Control Order and NPPA can cap prices.