(Yicai Global) Sept. 15 -- The Chinese government instituted the first centralized procurement of high-priced medical consumables yesterday, with coronary stents to be the first items purchased.
A stent is a tiny tube inserted into an obstructed vein, breathing, alimentary or other passageway to hold it open. China’s medical insurance scheme pays CNY15 billion (USD2.2 billion) each year for coronary stents.
Chinese and foreign firms such as Medtronic and Abbott Laboratories will join in the bidding for the mass buy. Seven to eight coronary stents from three foreign firms will join the bid. Imported stents such as Medtronic’s Resolute, Boston Scientific’s Promus PREMIER, and Abbott Laboratories’ XienceV and seven domestic products will be in the running. The average purchase price of one imported heart stent is around CNY19,000 (USD2,798.4), documents the National Healthcare Security Administration issued show.
"The final goal of products in the market is to benefit patients," a foreign firm told Yicai Global.
The purchase prices of coronary stents which clinch the bid will be decided based on companies’ prices as declared in November, and the purchase is expected to start in January.
"A sharp drop in the price of coronary stents may lead to lack of production power in some manufacturers and thus missing models, which may affect some emergency patients," was one concern an industry insider voiced about the procurement to Yicai Global.
Faced with competitive pressure, producers will actively develop "more innovative coronary stents, such as biodegradable stents, which are good for promoting market innovation," the insider added.
The Chinese government's medical management department has piloted centralized procurement of coronary stents in Shanxi and Jiangsu provinces and achieved significant results thereby. The prices of products winning the bid fell by about 52 percent on average, with the biggest drop being 69 percent.
China’s interventional treatment of coronary heart disease developed rapidly from 2009 to last year, and annual cases jumped from 230,000 to more than 1 million in annual 10 percent to 20 percent growth, public data show.
China used around 1.5 million coronary stents last year based on the calculation of about 1.5 used in one heart disease surgery, totaling about CNY15 billion, making up one-tenth of the total cost of high-priced consumables in the country.
Editors: Tang Shihua, Ben Armour