After a private hospital overcharged his friend’s family for a stent, advocate Birender Sangwan took it upon himself to get justice. He filed a petition in the Delhi High Court in 2014, seeking regulation of stent prices in the country. He reasoned with the court that coronary stents are a life saving device, which is why they need to be included in the National List of Essential Medicines (NELM). His efforts bore fruit last week when the government announced the upper limit for stent prices at Rs 30,000. This is a major victory for Sangwan as well as everyone else in need of stents. With an upper limit of Rs 30,000, stent prices are now effectively down by nearly 85%.
In 2014, the brother of Sangwan’s friend was charged Rs 1,26,000 for a stent. When Sangwan checked the box, he found that there was no MRP (Maximum Retail Price) printed on it. Sangwan inquired with the hospital staff who told him that stent pries are not regulated by the government, which is why hospitals are free to charge any price they want. Sangwan felt that this was no different from a scam and decided to fight for justice.
However, even after the government has decreased stent prices, Sangwan is worried because hospitals are now inflating the bills with other charges such as doctor consultation, room services, etc. Sangwan is working on these as well to tackle the problem. He also plans to petition for regulation of prices of other medical devices such as Orthopedic implants.