The Supreme Court (SC), on Monday, heard the suo moto case against sub-standard stent selling in Pakistan.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case. The CJP during the hearing inquired when Pakistan will start making its own stents to which heart expert Dr Murtaza replied it could be expected in June of this year and would cost Rs15,000.
Government envoy Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar said 72 stent making companies have been registered.
The CJP noted that a stent costing Rs1 million is inserted for double the amount, and lauding the decision that Pakistan would be making its own stents, said “we endeavour to offer good and cheap health facilities to the common man.”
The CJP also called for complete records of stent insertions, asking “how would it be made certain that the same stent for which the amount was collected has been inserted.”
Towards the end of the hearing, the CJP sought a report and cost of stents inserted in the past three months from hospitals. Notices were issued to various members over the report of the government envoy.
The SC summoned chiefs of the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology and the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, in the next hearing, which will be held on February 3 in Islamabad.
Chiefs of Shifa International Hospital, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Quaid-e-Azam International Hospital and Kulsoom International Hospital, Agha Khan University Hospital and NIC Karachi chiefs have also been summoned for the next hearing. The court has asked all hospital heads to inform the bench about the angioplasty packages they offer.
In January last year, the CJP took notice of stent fraud following reports that some hospitals in Lahore were either unnecessarily placing stents in cardiac patients or charging patients up to Rs180,000 for each stent, which actually costs not more than a few thousand rupees. The reports also stated that in many cases, stents were not even implanted in patients, but the hospitals charged them for bogus angioplasties.
In February 2017, the federal government admitted before the top court that there is no price control mechanism on heart stents in the country.