Lives of the cardiac patients in need for coronary stent implant have been put at stake by an undeclared ‘indefinite strike’ enforced by the coronary stent suppliers.
Abul Kasem (52) of Rangpur has been suffering from cardiac diseases. As per the advice of the doctors in Rangpur, he got admitted to National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) to do an angiogram.
The angiogram indicated that he has two blocks (coronary stenosis) in the coronary artery. The doctors advised his relatives to collect coronary stent for an immediate implant. But neither Kasem’s family nor the hospital could manage the stent due to the strike of the suppliers. The doctor had no other option than to postpone the stent implant procedures.
“I have shifted them to hospital beds and some of the patients are in critical condition,” he added. “The strike is inhuman as the traders are holding the patients hostage. This is not acceptable,” Dr Mir Jamal said.
A cardiologist at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University shared a similar experience.
“Heart patients are suffering a lot. This is quite absurd,” the doctor said requesting anonymity. The situation was the same in other major public hospitals.
According to cardiologists, over 100 patients get stents implanted every day.
The “strike” comes after the government moved to fix the prices of stents, as high prices of stents in Bangladesh was affecting poor patients. Some patients chose to go to India to get their stents implanted as it was much cheaper there.
Director General Mustafizur Rahman of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) on April 18 told journalists that four stent supplying companies said they would sell one type of stents at Tk 25,000 and another variety at Tk 50,000.
However, some media outlets reported that the lowest price of stents was fixed at Tk 25,000 and the highest at Tk 50,000. This created confusion among stent suppliers, he told this newspaper.
He said stent importers met them at the DGDA office and they clarified the matter. They asked suppliers not to do anything that could affect the treatment of patients.
“There was no problem with the supply after 12 noon,” he claimed.
However, Bangladesh Medical Device Importers Association President Gazi AK Shaheen refused to admit that the stent suppliers went for an undeclared strike.
He said there was a misunderstanding over the fixing of stent prices and their leaders had a meeting with DGDA officials yesterday. “Everything was clarified. We are supplying stents,” Shaheen told journalists.
Currently, patients have to pay between Tk 80,000 and Tk 1.5 lakh for a single drug-eluting stent at a public hospital while some private hospitals charge almost double, according to cardiologists.
India in February slashed stent prices and fixed maximum Rs 30,000. Cardiologists feared heart patients needing stents would be now rushing to India for the treatment.
There are 47 types of registered stents implanted in Bangladesh. Twenty-one companies import those.
The DGDA recently formed a committee for fixing the prices of coronary stents.