Trade margins on knee implants as much as 300 percent, says regulator

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NEW DELHI: Average trade margins on knee systems for implants are as high as 300%, India’s drug pricing watchdog said. The average margin for importers of total knee systems was 76% while for distributors and hospitals, it was 135%, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority said on Friday. The total trade margin averaged 313%, the regulator said. 

A total knee system can cost a patient as much as Rs 4.13 lakh and a minimum of Rs 59,091, while import prices ranged between Rs 23,408 and Rs 65,781, the regulator said. Distributors and hospitals on average mark up prices of components such as femoral, tibial plate, inserts and patellas range by between 120% and 163%, according to the data. 

NPPA’s data on knee implants comes five months after the regulator slashed prices of cardiac stents by up to 85% to make them affordable. Distributors and hospitals were found to be among those making highest profit in stent business in India. 

The new notification comes after the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation proposed that a committee evaluate whether heart valves, orthopaedic implants and lenses used in cataract surgeries should be brought under the National List of Essential Medicines. Such a move would allow the Department of Pharmaceuticals to notify these devices as scheduled drugs, paving the way for NPPA to cap their prices. 

It is not confirmed whether NPPA released the data on knee implants because it may limit their prices. The regulator had earlier asked for trade data on 18 other medical devices. 

Rs Government and NPPA committed to transparency and affordable healthcare,” NPPA said on social media platform Twitter. NPPA Chairman Bhupendra Singh could not be reached for comment. 

Rs It would be a good move if they cap prices, especially of knee and hip implants. The price to distributor of joints (knee and hip implants) ranges between Rs 45,000-55,000 but the hospitals charge up to Rs 1.7 lakh for only the implants, separate from the procedure costs,” said an industry official on condition of anonymity.