Bioresorbable stents hit India, but most patients can't afford them

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Bioresorbable stents--which dissolve in the body over time after they prop open arteries--are hitting India, the largest potential medical device market outside of China. But their relatively high cost will prevent them from reaching most of the country's eligible patients, the Times of India reports.

"We are still negotiating the cost … because the absorbable stent will be beyond the reach of the common man in India," senior cardiologist Dr. A.B. Mehta of Jaslok Hospital told the newspaper.

A single stent and hospital stay right now would cost more than $7,291, a hospital administrator told the Times of India. That's a big jump from the typical cost of drug-eluting stents--just under $2,370 per stent, according to the story. And India's average income remains much lower than in the United States.

The technology represents a major advance in stent treatments, because the scaffolding absorbs back into the body after 18 months or so, allowing the stent to release its treatment, prop open the artery and be gone before clots and stroke risks become an issue.

In other words, bioresorbable stents could be an invaluable tool toward improving health outcomes. And so it will be worth watching to see if India's healthcare system negotiates or even outright regulates the final price tag for bioresorbable stents (known increasingly as scaffolding). India's gain would be big, because bioresorbable stents haven't yet debuted in the U.S. market. The technology has spread, however, to many other countries in Europe, much of the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America. Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) is leading the pack with its Absorb drug-eluting bioresorbable vascular scaffold, which has a number of international approvals.

For now, however, there would be major irony if bioresorbable stents are available in India, and most patients couldn't afford the price tag.

- read the story

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