Several hospitals in India charge patients double or even triple the market price of medtech devices, the Times of India has reported.
Patients, who cannot buy these devices independently, are at the mercy of these hospitals, which make up to 30% of their profits from inflated medtech charges, the newspaper found. The devices include stents, implants, pacemakers, artificial joints, titanium plates for fractures, and valves.
One man reported that a hospital marked up the price of a drug-eluting stent for his father by 300%. The patient needed three such stents at the equivalent of $1,615 U.S. apiece. The man tried to buy them from the hospital’s supplier, but the hospital refused to use them, the newspaper report said. Ultimately, the hospital agreed to provide three stents for the price of two, at the equivalent of $985 apiece.
According to MD Buyline, drug-eluting stents in the United States range in price from $1,375 to $2,225. Drug-eluting stents are more popular than bare-metal stents, which have caused restenosis issues in cardiac patients.
Some Indian experts suggest setting a maximum retail price on devices used in hospitals, but an Indian price-ceiling law only covers items made in that country. Most medtech devices are manufactured in other countries.
Others advised allowing patients to buy devices from pharmacies, which could offer broader choices and lower prices. Patients, however, might not believe they have the expertise to choose the right device, the newspaper said.