Price controls will devalue healthcare system in India, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

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Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon has called on the Centre to be careful in controlling prices of drugs and equipment saying that this could potentially impact the quality of healthcare in India.

"I think there is an affordability price-point which people need to understand and that is the debate we are not having. Just by forcing pricing on hospital services and drugs, what is happening today? There is a drug shortage and poor quality drugs are being offered. If you want cheap (more price control) you will devalue the entire healthcare system in India. I think the cost of healthcare in India is the lowest in the world and let us not forget that. If you are not going to have quality stents and implants to use in surgery, aren't you doing a disservice to the patients," said Shaw.

She was talking to reporters at an event to announce GE Healthcare's partnership with medtech startup UE LifeSciences.

The National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) has recently brought in a regulation to control the prices of stents, which is an artificial tube inserted in the human heart for proper blood circulation. It is now proposing price control for accessories used to implant stents.

Union Pharmaceutical Minister Ananth Kumar had earlier this year said people are often "exploited by private hospitals" as they end up paying Rs 1-1.5 lakh for a stent, even though there are stents that are available at a cost of around Rs 10,000.

Healthcare solution providers, too, seek a balance between quality and pricing. Terri Bresenham, President & CEO, GE Healthcare Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, said: "The system of healthcare in India should be balanced between quality healthcare and affordability."