Govt cracks the whip, fixes ceiling prices of orthopaedic knee implants

While making it clear that overcharging of knee implants would be strictly monitored and penalized, the government has termed the move to cap their prices as a step to ensure affordable and quality healthcare

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New Delhi: After a series of hints earlier on what it intended to do, the union government has finally fixed the ceiling prices of orthopaedic implants used in knee surgeries. While the union minister for chemicals and fertilizers, Mr Ananthkumar had tweeted earlier that he will be walking the talk on the issue, it even found a mention in the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi’s independence day speech. Therefore, it was amply clear to guess what would follow.

Finally, on 16th August, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority issued a detailed notification ordering the capping of prices on 11 primary knee replacement systems and 4 revision knee replacement systems. Besides the analysis done by it, the NPPA also cited many of the earlier Supreme Court verdicts on profiteering in the healthcare sector to emphasize on the wider sentiments behind its decision.

As per the NPPA notification, the standard and most widely used complete knee implant (cobalt chromium) has been capped at Rs 54,720 + GST. The price has been reduced by 65 per cent. Total knee implant of special metals like Titanium and oxidised Zirconium has been capped at Rs 76,600 + GST. Hence, there is a reduction in price by 69 per cent. Highly flexible implants have been capped at Rs 56,490 + GST, which has seen a 69 per cent reduction. Second knee implant surgery would cost Rs 1,13,950 + GST, hence there has been 59 per cent reduction.

Immediately after that, Mr Ananthkumar made the official announcement to cap the prices of knee implants while addressing the media at New Delhi.

Mr Ananthkumar while pointing towards the data analysis done by the NPPA, mentioned that there was a huge margin in trade which was found to be unreasonable and in a way unethical profiteering.

“Based on the numbers of about 1 to 1.5 lakh orthopaedic knee procedures done in India every year, there will be a saving of about Rs 1500 crore for the people of India per annum. It is a step to prevent unethical profiteering and ensure affordable and quality healthcare for the last man,” stated the Minister.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that the osteoarthritis is going to be the fourth largest cause of immobility in the world by 2020India has about 1.2 to 1.crore patients who require orthopaedic implant surgery.

“Most of the diagnosed people requiring knee surgery are not able to afford because of very high cost. The government is reforming this state of affairs putting a ceiling on knee implants,” the Minister added.

As per Mr Ananthkumar, the NPPA, while fixing the ceiling prices, has kept all the new technology implants in mind and prices have been fixed accordingly.

Type of Knee Implant

Average MRP Earlier

(Rupees)

Average Price

Reduction

New Ceiling Price and MRP*

(Rupees)

Cobalt Chromium (most widely used)

1,58,324

65%

54,720

Special Metal like Titanium & Oxidized Zirconium

2,49,251

69%

76,600

High Flexibility Implant

1,81,728

69%

56,490

Revision Implants

2,76,869

59%

1,13,950

Specialized Implants for Cancer & Tumour

Company specific prices; to be fixed by NPPA at Rs. 1,13,950

*Companies will have to print the MRP by adding GST on these ceiling prices

Mr Ananthkumar said that the government expects full cooperation from all the stakeholders including importers, distributors, retailers, hospitals etc. in ensuring that the benefit of reduction of prices of knee implants reaches the last man.

The Minister added that all complaints of overcharging would be strictly monitored and the overcharged amount would be recovered from erring parties with an interest of 18 percent over it. While going a step further, he added that the government might also consider cancelling of licenses and initiate criminal proceedings against stakeholders engaged in unethical profiteering.