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Serious action must to reduce cost of stents

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14th-Apr-2017       
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THE move by the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) to fix the soaring prices of metallic stents of all brands used to prop open blocked arteries of heart patients is surely a welcome step. In our hospitals middlemen who keep their presence at hospital corridors regularly supply stents to heart patients undergoing surgery to open the cardio-vascular block at highly exploitative price. 

It is a kind of hostage taking at critical moments when middlemen regularly realize exorbitant price. Some private hospitals even charge double the real cost. Middlemen operate in connivance with a section of hospital staff and surgeons benefitting from commission. So the new move will definitely bring relief to patients if only the Health Ministry takes the issue seriously and show the resolve to sternly deal with the syndicate to end their exploitative trade in human miseries. Such exploitative business is going on under the shelter of influential people having link with government establishments and  support of hospital management. Outwardly it is not so easy to end their illegal business.
 
However it is heartening that the representatives of Health Ministry, Prime Minister's Office, administrators of public and private hospitals, top cardiologists, stent importers and Anti-Corruption Commission have discussed the issue as an urgent matter of public concern on Wednesday pondering how to end the control of illegal syndicates over supply of stents for heart patients.

They have however rightly identified that the role of Health Ministry and Public Administration is vital to wipeout the exploitation. Some of the measures they have suggested include prominently hanging of retail price charts of stents of all brands for making a choice by patients' families and warning that violators would be punished. They have asked hospitals to implement such steps with immediate effect. A total of 22 companies and 47 stents are now registered with the Drug Administration.

The fact is that India in February this year has slashed stent prices to a maximum thirty thousand rupe and since it is half of Bangladesh cost, most people are going to India for stents insertion. It means our health establishments are losing business. Our doctors must realize that unfair handling of patients will not benefit them at the end even though they are least concerned about patients' financial suffering.

Stents cost is too high in Bangladesh. Patients have to pay here between Taka eighty thousand and Tk 1.5 lakh for a single drug-eluting stent at a public hospital. Experts believe its prices can be easily brought down to Taka sixty thousand to Tk 1.3 lakh if effective measures have been taken.  Cost of a bare-metal stent can also be brought down to Taka thirty thousand from forty thousand now.  So the initiative is really good for patients by all intents, but its success must come not from mere talks but from action.

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