Stents for troubled hearts are not exactly novel, but stents that dissolve in the body are, relatively that is. And come New Year, Abbott Vascular, the cardiac and vascular care division of American drug-maker Abbott, is keen to exploit this segment for ensuring steady growth in India.
In 2013, bioresorbable stents (devices that dissolve in the body after restoring blood flow to blocked arteries of heart) would be part of Abbott’s customary annual 6-12 launches.
Amit Kumar, regional director and general manager of Abbott Vascular’s operations in South Asia and South East Asia, said bioresorbable stents will have a huge potential in India. “This is a market where several people have heart ailments. In 2012, about 2-3 lakh people required stents.”
Which is why Abbott Vascular launched the biodegradable stents in India this week. But not everyone is impressed. Not because the new stents are not useful but because they are expensive at Rs2-3 lakh apiece. The price will be a deterrent in India, say experts.
For, in the private sector, other stents cost Rs1-1.2 lakh; the cost is much lower (Rs60,000-70,000) in a government healthcare set-up, but still much higher than in Europe, where they cost around Rs40,000-50,000 apiece (allowing for relevant forex conversions).
“For Abbott, it’ll be more of a value game than volume game. So, although the market for stents is huge, the same cannot be said of the dissolving stent,” said a healthcare expert from a professional services firm.
Agreed a top official from a medical devices firm. “Cost will be a big factor with the bioresorbable stent, given that even other type of stents costing Rs60,000 are beyond the reach of several patients.”
To be sure, Abbott will also launch other devices, not just the new-age stent, for cardiac and vascular care in 2013, subject to approvals from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).
For, heart diseases in India are likely to impact 6.50 crore people by 2015, as per estimates by the British Heart Journal.