Being Atmanirbhar in Medical Device Manufacturing

When our Honourable PM Narendra Modi in the backdrop of tension between Indo -China in Eastern Ladakh called for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ i.e. being self-reliant in manufacturing especially in Defence and technological field, but there is one field where India needs to Atmanirbhar moreover after Covid-19 pandemic outbreak is Medical Device Manufacturing. Healthcare sector in India is expected to reach $280 bn by 2022 from $150 bn in 2018.

Healthcare sector is rapidly growing not only in terms of revenue but also employment. Today it comprises hospitals, medical infrastructure, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, health insurance and medical equipment. The medical device industry is estimated to be $11 bn in 2020 and expected to reach $10 bn by 2025, whereas imports and exports stands at $6.2 bn and $2.1 bn respectively in 2018-19.

Driving Make in India from within 

The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic pushed the trigger button because of India’s huge population and high dependency on the import medical devices sector. 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 for the country.

Earlier there was no PPE manufacturer in India but as on 1st May, there are 111 indigenous manufacturers producing over 1.87 lakh PPEs per day. The production of ventilators rose to 50,000 units in May from 5,750 units in march costing around Rs 2 – 4.5 lakh as compared to Rs 15 -16 lakhs for imported ones by 15 firms. In N95 mask production, the country has a production capacity of 1.5 billion and the surplus capacity is 532.03 million after discounting the demand produced by 49 firms. Similarly, swab manufacturers from zero to three and sanitizers manufacturers from 35 to 48 and RT PCR kit manufacturers from zero to eight.

Hurdles Faced

As per an article by Rajiv Nath Forum Coordinator of the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) and Dr Suchita Markan Assistant General Manager of Biotech Consortium India (BCIL) published in the International Journal of Drug Regulatory Affairs, this month authored by covers the various challenges and opportunities faced by the Indian medical device industry during COVID-19 pandemic, how the indigenous industry responded to these challenges and the way forward for making the country self-sustainable and a leading exporter of the world in the medical device sector. This was further highlighted by The Department of Pharmaceuticals recognised that indigenous manufacturers have a disability of 12-15 per cent on account of:

  1.   Lack of adequate infrastructure, supply chain and logistics.
  2.   The high cost of finance.
  3.   Inadequate availability and cost of quality power.
  4.   Limited design capabilities.
  5.   Low focus on R&D and skill development.

The department of DBT, BIRAC, NITI Aayog and the office of Principal Scientific Advisor to PM has been working to create an ecosystem for nurturing start-ups and incubators. The real challenge for these startups are the above 12-15 per cent disabilities and marketing challenges, once they graduate to MSME.

The medical device industry is seeking government intervention and support in terms of various policy matters so that the industry could realise its potential.

Self-reliance- need of the hour

“Government needs to undertake major reforms for the Indian industry to play a key role in the global supply chain and be self-reliant. Many of the components being imported eg, semiconductor display, magnets, capital intensive equipment can only be made at scale by Indian manufacturers if they are given a high degree of policy certainty as they require high upfront investments,” said Dr Markan.

Due to expensive labour and electricity industry finds it difficult to reach economies of scale as the cost of manufacturing increases. To decrease this, the government must provide infrastructure and logistic support at cheaper rates. The state of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Sikkim are coming up with dedicated Medical Device Parks projects worth $132.24 mn and also easing and streamlining of Labour Laws which are in pipeline.

DV Sadananda Gowda, Minister, Chemicals and Fertilisers, GoI said, “The ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign and development of three Bulk Drugs Parks and four Medical Device Parks will not only reduce India’s dependency on imports but will also be helpful in making India a major player in global pharma / medical devices exports.”

Wrapping up

The call for Atmanirbhar Bharat as well as ‘Go Local and be vocal’ will make India an emerging manufacturing superpower but will also strengthen India to vie for being the second factory in the world for medical devices and a dependable manufacturer of quality products in the global supply chain.

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