India to Jettison Price Controls For Broader Caps on Trade Margins

While nearly two dozen medical devices are regulated in India as drugs, they are largely out of government price control, with only five of them subject to specific price caps. Those are cardiac stents, drug-eluting stents, condoms, intra-uterine devices, and, since last year, knee implants. But the Indian government is moving toward a new policy that will scrap the current price controls on those specific products and instead limit trade margins on a broader range of medical devices.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had imposed the price controls in a bid to boost affordability of medical treatment. But medical device manufacturers argue that the controls are unfairly applied and hurt innovation, profits, and future investment.

The plan to cap trade margins—the difference between what retailers pay for a product and what they charge consumers for it—could actually increase prices on some of the devices that price caps had made more affordable. But Indian policymakers say the goal is to trim irrational profits made by distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and even hospitals who sell medical devices to patients.