Unlike atop Parliament. ‘Make in India’ Lion is Hangdog in Medical Device Arena

Domestic manufacturers are shutting shops in the face of China’s aggressive export


New Delhi: China is increasingly ascendent so far as exporting medical device to India is concerned despite government’s protestations of taming the dragon. As chips are down, ‘Make in India’ motivation is chickening out. Its Lion, unlike the ferocious Lion atop Parliament, is hangdog at best. Slow death of ‘Make in India’ soul has shaken Association of Indian Medical Device Industry. China remains the top import source for India as imports from China grew 48% from ₹9,112 crore in 2020-21 to ₹13,538 crore in 2021-22.

China is not only aggressive in impinging on the India’s land, it is also increasingly swamping medical device domain with government letting things deteriorate for domestic manufacturers. Association of Indian Medical device industry is sending SOS to government to intervene to stopdomestic industry’s is downward spiral with Import of MedicalDevices Up by Record 41% in FY22. The astronomical bill of import of medical device is making big hole in country’s exchequer as well as strangling domestic industry.

The Commerce Ministry data analysed by the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) has shown that the imports of medical devices are up by record 41% at Rs. 63,200 crore in 2021-22 from Rs. 44,708 crore in 2020-21.

Speaking on the rise in imports of medical devices, Mr. Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) said “NITI Aayog and the Department of Pharmaceuticals recognises that Indian manufacturers have a 12-15 per cent disability factor in manufacturing medical devices in India. We urge the Govt. to neutralize this disability for reduction of medical devices imports in India as was in the case of consumer electronics, including mobile phones and even in the toy industry.

At present, the duty on Chinese imports ranges mostly from zero to 10 per cent, but the bulk of the items are in the 7.5 per cent category and one item at 25%.

Mr. Nath urged Department of Science & Technology (DST) & Department of Biotechnology (DBT) to seek correction of tariff to a nominal 15% because then only entrepreneurs can survive and have a productive relationship with Academic institutions for innovations in process & product development or incremental improvements in performance to become competitive.

We on behalf of the Indian Medical Devices industry request the Govt. to expedite steps to end the 80% import dependence forced upon us and an ever-increasing import bill of over Rs. 63,200 crore, expedite steps for patients’ protection, stronger quality & Safety regulations, price controls to make medical devices and quality treatment accessible and affordable and ethical indigenous manufacturing viable The Healthcare Security of India is at very Risk.

“It’s a very alarming situation as the increase has been five-fold over a six-year period as India imported ₹12,866 crore worth of medical devices in 2016-17.” Said Mr. Rajiv Nath.Despite Govt’s efforts to slow imports from China, sadly China remained the top import source for India as imports from China grew 48% from ₹9,112 crore in 2020-21 to ₹13,538 crore in 2021-22.

The medical device imports from the USA also increased steeply by 48% to ₹10,245 crore in 2021-22 from ₹6,919 crore in 2020-21.

The value of medical devices from China was nearly the same as the combined value of imports from Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands in 2021-22.

It’s discouraging for the local industry players as this has led to several small and medium units to shut shop.

With Govt’s push to make India ‘Aatmanirbhar’ in medical device manufacturing during the pandemic several local Units making masks, PPE kits, thermometers, and gloves mushroomed as there was very high demand.

AiMeD, an umbrella organization of domestic medical device manufacturers representing the interest of over 1500 Manufacturers of Medical Devices pointed out that from 1,200 units, the numbers had gone up to 1,800 during the peak of the pandemic. Slowly, units started to shut down as imports from China kept on rising. Now, it is estimated that there are around 1,500 such units, and many more are on the verge of closing down.

For the beleaguered domestic industry capacity utilisations had dropped by the October-December quarter of 2021-22. From the peak utilisation levels of 100 per cent, by November 2021, around 33 per cent, or one-third of India’s medical devices making capacity, was estimated to be lying idle. This is even higher currently.

AiMeD’s analysis shows India’s top five medical device import sources — China, USA, Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands – together account for ₹37,519 crore, or 68%, of the total value of imports.

AiMed pointed out that among the six major categories of medical devices like Consumables, Disposables, Electronics and Equipments, Implants, IVD Reagent & Surgical Instruments that are imported, the growth has been the highest in the ‘electronics and equipment’ category. India imported ₹40,649 crore worth of medical devices that come under this category in 2021-22 against an import worth ₹4,569 crore in 2016-17.

The import of surgical instruments went up to ₹1,260 crore from ₹243 crore during this period. The other categories of products fared like this: IVD reagent (from ₹361 crore in 2016-17 to ₹6,564 crore in 2021-22), consumables (from ₹5,249 crore in 2016-17 to ₹8,488 crore in 2021-22), implants (from ₹384 crore to ₹3,155 crore) and disposables (from ₹2,061 crore to ₹3,084 crore).

AiMeD also analysed the top 50 medical device import items from China to identify the areas of greater dependence for India. A bulk of the imported medical devices from China (in value terms) fall in the ‘other items’ sub-sections under various major categories, it finds. AiMeD urged that the Govt. should consider shifting from an 8 Digit HS Code to a 10 Digit HS Code as done by USA and Europe to give more granular data for enabling better analysis and policy making.

“GoI needs to take policy decisions as done for Mobile Phone & Consumer Electronic Industry to give level playing field, if not a strategic advantage to domestic manufacturers, while safeguarding consumers or India will remain 80% import dependent which is a high healthcare security risk.” Concluded Mr. Nath.


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