Thankfully, Covid-19 had Silver Lining for Indian Medical Device Industry

Opportunities & Challenges of Indian Medical Device Industry

Rajiv Nath
Forum Coordinator of Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) 

In this large black cloud of Coronavirus, the only silver lining was the major boost provided to Make in India of Medical Devices which has been a neglected sector with import friendly policies in past with negligible duties. Many businessmen in auto sector, garments, hospitality, tourism industry diversified into medical devices considering depressing times for their own businesses and saw opportunity and growth in devices.

The Government of India through its flagship “Make in India” initiative relied heavily on the Indian manufacturers to meet the rising demand of essential healthcare equipment’s for the country, pushing the Indian medical devices sector to become self-reliant.

The Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) relentlessly worked at the forefront to combat the crisis. COVID-19 crisis has shown that Indian medical devices sector can rise to the challenge. When imports got disrupted, specific devices detailed with quantified production shortages and a focused Inter-Ministry Group coordinating with domestic manufacturers via AiMeD had addressed production bottlenecks and challenges so that not only capacity got utilized but also ramped up rapidly.

Indian Medical Device Manufacturing industry is at the cusp of a great opportunity. Manufacturing growth in China has been challenged by many Countries resistance to buy Chinese Medical Devices. Another opportunity is current Indian Public Procurement Policy. Due to geopolitical reasons global investors have begun to show renewed interest in India. Our government has also seized the initiative and in a series of measures has reformed the country’s foreign investment policy to allow higher levels of investment from abroad in diverse sectors. As a result India has become one of the most open economies in the world and rightly positioned to attract large-scale foreign investments. The Indian Government with Invest India spear heading the initiative has already chalked out plans intending to remove all roadblocks and offer tailor-made solutions to attract investment to make India a manufacturing hub for medical devices.

Covid-19 has changed the scenario of doing business. It has opened massive opportunities for healthcare sector in tele-consultation, AI-based diagnostics and remote healthcare management. India has shown its capability of rapid product development during the #COVID19 pandemic and it has a strong hold in the IT domain, we can build sophisticated software products in the healthcare domain.

The govt. interventions helped the medical devices industry scale up production during the pandemic. We enjoyed an unprecedented teamwork and rapid proactive communication from NPPA who became a facilitator instead of a Regulator & Dept. of Pharma, DPIIT, Invest India and MSME Ministry as they set up help desks to address production bottlenecks of all Medical Devices especially, those related to COVID viz Sanitizers, Masks, Ventilators, Gloves & COVID IVD Test Kits.

COVID-19 crisis has also shown that the Indian Syringe manufacturers sector can rise to the challenge.

India’s vaccination drive has been a role model for the world. As India scripts history with India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive exceeding the 1 billion mark, we wholeheartedly congratulate the Hon’ble PM, his team especially at MoH&FW as well as India’s countless healthcare workers, healthcare providers & Covid 19 vaccine logistics providers and all those who worked to achieve this noble feat. Teamwork & Leadership can move mountains.

Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices Ltd (HMD) alone has supplied 516 million KOJAK Auto Disable syringes to GoI and additionally over 100 million Dispovan Disposable Syringes via private sector till date, to help vaccinate over 1 bn people.

All orders received from December 2020 till date have been supplied on time or before time as committed. HMD is on track to produce & supply outstanding orders of 310 million 0.5 ml KOJAK AD Syringes to Govt. by 2022 beginning, hopefully by January end.

We are glad we could shoulder a small part of the responsibilities of providing the guns (syringes) needed to fire the bullets (vaccines) for India’s massive vaccination campaign.

We assure the Govt. that we will always prioritize domestic needs. Indian Syringe manufacturers extends full cooperation & support to GoI and will do whatever it needs to produce syringes ahead of schedule to ensure success of India’s massive vaccination campaign.

We are waiting for a policy announcement on the below vital issues of Indian Medical Devices Industry to end the 85% import dependence forced upon us and an ever increasing import bill of over Rs 45,000 Crore:

  • Consumer Protection: For ensuring Ethical Marketing is not disadvantageous, Trade Margin Rationalization is needed and will also protect Consumers from Exorbitant Pricing. MRP labeling needs to be enforced on Unit of Sale of Medical Devices by Customs. Also Govt. of India may introduce Trade Margin Cap Mechanism of maximum 4 times MRP over Import Landed Price / Ex-Factory Price for domestic Manufacturers but not from price to Distributor as that would making in India at a competitive disadvantage over imports.
  • Regulate all Medical Devices under a Patients’ Safety Medical Devices Law separate from Drugs to protect patients and aid responsible manufacturing while decriminalization of minor offences.
  • Restriction on Import of Pre-owned Medical Equipment of over 3 years age.
  • Healthcare 5% cess needs to be applied to other Medical Devices too. In addition, a predictive nominal tariff protection policy should also be implemented as done for mobile phones to ensure a vibrant domestic industry and competitiveness and price stability driven by competing domestic players.
  • Incentivize quality and domestic content in healthcare products in public healthcare procurements by preferential pricing for Q1 e.g. ICMED (QCI’s Indian Certification for Medical Devices) instead of L1 (lowest price) to ensure patients access acceptable quality made to global standards.

(The writer is Mr. Rajiv Nath is also Managing Director of Hindustan Syringe & Medical Device Ltd (HMD)



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