The average price paid by hospitals for drug-eluting stents fell 6% over the past year as hospitals continue to push back on the prices of physician preference items, according to the Modern Healthcare/ECRI Institute Technology Price Index.
The average price for a drug-eluting stent is $1,340, said Amanda McShea, a manager for ECRI's PriceGuide service.
What hospitals pay for a stent varies widely, due to differences in a hospital's product negotiations. Also, the common disclosure clauses included in product contracts prevent some hospitals from sharing pricing. Hospitals pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,750 for a drug-eluting stent, based on ECRI data.
Medical supplies make up a hospital's second-largest expense, after labor. As healthcare providers look for ways to reduce costs to offset declining reimbursement rates and lower patient volume, they have looked for ways to cut the costs of clinical and nonclinical spending categories. This includes physician preference items, such as pacemakers, hip implants or drug-eluting stents, which usually are the most expensive medical supplies that a hospital buys.
“Pricing for drug-eluting stents has slowly declined over the years,” McShea said. “The technologies are very similar and the three manufacturers are very competitive with their pricing.”
Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific Corp., and Medtronic sell drug-eluting stents in the U.S., with market share split fairly evenly between the three companies, although Abbott is considered the market leader for both drug-eluting and bare metal stents.
Cordis, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, was the first manufacturer to receive approval for a drug-eluting stent in 2003 but later exited the market in 2011. The U.S. market for both stents was about $2.05 billion in 2011.
There are several ways that hospitals have tried to reduce the costs of stents and other physician preference items. One way is for a hospital to commit most, if not all, of its spending in a clinical category to one manufacturer to yield better pricing. Few hospitals have been able to commit all purchasing for one product to a single manufacturer, in part because surgeons often develop product preferences during their residencies and there can be clinical differences in some products.
About 85% of the hospitals that provide pricing information to ECRI buy drug-eluting stents from more than one manufacturer.
While drug-eluting stents generate more sales in the U.S. than bare metal stents, pricing is expected to continue to decline for these products. “Over the past three years, we've seen a continuous decline (in price),” McShea said.
The Modern Healthcare/ECRI Institute Technology Price Index looks at monthly and yearly price data for 30 supply and capital items purchased by hospitals and other healthcare providers, based on three-month rolling averages.
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