China is looking to greatly reduce the cost of patients’ medical items by using a centralized procurement system, with the first such pooled acquisition realizing a 93% drop in prices for cardiac stents — devices used to treat heart disease.
Organized by the National Healthcare Security Administration, bidding Thursday in the northern municipality of Tianjin included 26 coronary stent products from 11 Chinese and foreign enterprises. The average price of the 10 varieties of cardiac stents that won dropped from about 13,000 yuan to roughly 700 yuan (from $1,960 to $100), state broadcaster China Central Television reported.
Stents are tube-shaped devices used to keep narrowed or blocked arteries open, and were selected for the first national pooled procurement because of their high usage rate in China. According to a 2019 report, China has roughly 330 million cardiovascular patients. From 2009 to 2019, the number of coronary heart disease surgeries in China increased from 230,000 to over 1 million, with an annual growth rate of 10% to 20%.
An estimated 1.5 million coronary stents were used in China in 2019 at a combined cost of about 15 billion yuan, accounting for one-tenth of the total cost of high-value medical consumables in the country. Based on intended purchasing volume, China will save nearly 11 billion yuan. The discounted stents are expected to be available from January 2021.
A comparison with the price of stents in other countries found that the devices cost more in China, at between 7,500 and 18,500 yuan without pooled procurement. The same devices cost 2,183 yuan in Brazil and 6,881 yuan in France, CCTV said.
A reform plan approved by the central government in 2019 called for using pooled procurement to lower the prices of high-value medical consumables. Eastern China’s Jiangsu province took the lead and conducted provincial-level purchasing of coronary stents that year, resulting in prices being reduced by half on average.
Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.
(Header image: Science Photo Library/People Visual)