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Growing Pharma, Biotech help Indian equipment market grow

Growth in the pharmaceuticals industry that has been witnessing rampant outsourcing of clinical trials and drug discovery research to the country has influenced strong growth in the Indian laboratory analytical instruments market. Adding to this has been the increasing emphasis on environmental conservation as well as the growth in the biotechnology sector.

Riding on this wave, the Indian market for laboratory analytical instruments is expected to register double-digit growth rates compared to the modest 3-4 % growth rate in other countries.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Indian Laboratory Analytical Instruments markets, finds that the market earned revenues of over 7.89 billion rupees in 2007 and estimates this to reach 18.07 billion rupees in 2011.

Support from the government and huge investments have helped accelerate the pace of development and mitigate potential bottlenecks, enabling the country to become the hub of biotechnology R&D activity. Also witnessed is a growing emphasis on preservation of the ecosystem through total environmental conservation. Laboratory analytical instruments being critical in these sectors, their growth is expected to remain unscathed in the future. The Indian laboratory analytical instruments market is highly price sensitive. End users such as the government, research institutes, and the pharma industry are very focused on their needs, procuring only the best of equipment with all features enabled at a highly competitive price. There is a distinct movement toward the procurement of value-enhanced products, but a reluctance to pay a higher price for such devices is also evident.

To remain competitive in the market, foreign suppliers are forced to shed a portion of their margins to enable them maintain prices at acceptable levels. Efforts are being directed toward inspiring sales through brand equity image. The best way forward for foreign suppliers is to either set up joint ventures with local manufacturers or go the whole hog and establish their own manfuacturing facilities in India.

SaskTel and Alcatel-Lucent launch remote monitoring

France-based Alcatel-Lucent and SaskTel have launched LifeStat Remote Monitoring and Health Management, a service that records and transmits daily blood glucose and blood pressure readings, automatically creating confidential, easy-to-use reports that can be viewed online by the client, their caregivers and the client’s healthcare professionals.

The ongoing development and support of the LifeStat platform and applications will be managed by SaskTel and Alcatel-Lucent through their Salveo project, which is based in Saskatchewan, Canada. The Salveo project is funded by the two parties with the primary objective of becoming a world leader in health and wellness telemonitoring software applications.

“LifeStat is a tremendous success story for SaskTel, Alcatel-Lucent and the Province of Saskatchewan,” said Ken Cheveldayoff, Minister of Crown Corporations for the Province of Saskatchewan. “Not only will LifeStat result in healthier people globally, it has created 20 new technical and professional positions in this province.”

“The LifeStat technology may hold the key to a new paradigm of diabetes and chronic illness management in primary care. We are looking forward to using this technology to introduce standard clinical diabetes management in the patient’s home with the help of the Home and Community Care team and the patient’s family physician,” said Dr Sheldon Tobe, Sunnybrook Hospital Ontario.

SaskTel will market and sell the LifeStat service directly to consumers and healthcare providers in Canada, while Alcatel-Lucent will market and actively sell the Salveo platform to its global customers outside of Canada under the name Alcatel-Lucent Health and Wellness Application.

Future LifeStat applications will include monitoring and reporting for chronic illnesses such as congestive heart failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma.

IFC to invest INR 55 crore in Rockland hospitals

World Bank group member International Finance Corporation has said it will invest INR 55 crore (USD 14 million) in Delhi-based Rockland Hospitals to support its expansion plans.

Rockland Hospitals plans to expand its facility in the national capital and set up a 250-bed hospital in Manesar, Haryana. “IFC will provide 10 million dollars through equity investments and another 4 million dollars in convertible preferred shares to Rockland Hospital,” IFC said in a statement. The project will help broaden access to high-quality health care and good administrative and patient care to common people, it added.

“This project demonstrates IFC’s commitment to social sector development. It also aligns with our strategy to invest in health care, one of India’s largest service industries where the private sector’s involvement is most critical,” IFC Director for Health and Education Guy Ellena said in a statement. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investments.

TAKE Solutions’ Pharma suite has four new Indian clients

TAKE Solutions announced recently that its worldwide business in regulatory document management and electronic submissions software arena is making quick inroads in the Indian market. The addition of new clients to TAKE Solutions’ globally renowned PharmaReady suite, makes the product very well entrenched in the Indian market. Amongst others, key customers in India are Ajanta Pharma, Alembic Ltd., Alkem, Dabur, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Marksans Pharma and Serum Institute. With eSubmissions becoming mandatory in many of the countries in the West, more and more Pharma companies in India are realising the need to update their processes and procedures to the eSubmissions platform.

With a 100% implementation and submissions success rate, customers in 12 countries are putting PharmaReady to constant use across 4 continents, with an install base of several thousand satisfied users. The PharmaReady suite of software distinguishes itself from the marketplace by being relevant to a wide range of global life sciences customers and prospects. This includes branded and generic bio-pharmaceutical companies in various stages of their research and application process as they seek approval from global regulatory agencies. Unlike many of its competitors, TAKE Solutions has near shore support centers located in Chennai, India for the Asia Pacific customer base that makes it very convenient for users located in this part of the world. TAKE’s offices in North America serve as the support centres for the North American and European customer base.

Perot Systems to support health insurance program

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Health Insurance Connector Authority, also known as Health Connector, and Perot Systems, a provider of IT services, has announced that the company will provide IT and business process services to support the state’s innovative program to assist low-income Massachusetts residents in choosing the appropriate plan of coverage for each individual’s healthcare needs.

The Health Connector’s Commonwealth Care program has been deployed to ease the financial burden of health insurance costs, and provide benefit coverage options to residents of Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Perot Systems’ expertise in the healthcare industry combined with its ability to provide technology will improve operational efficiencies and drive down the administrative costs of the program. By providing service and technology support, Perot Systems will help the Commonwealth Care program to achieve the landmark goal of providing healthcare coverage for many of its uninsured residents.

The timeframe for the agreement is for three years, and some of the responsibilities will be shared with both Vecna and the Public Consulting Group.

ICICI Venture eyes stake in KIMS

An ICICI Venture associate fund and a Singapore-based private equity (PE) player are in talks to invest INR 300 crore in Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS). The hospital will use the fund for Indian and overseas expansion. KIMS CMD M Sahadulla said, “We have been talking to several PE players to fund our expansion plans.  We have now zeroed in on two funds�an ICICI associate fund and a Singapore-based healthcare focused PE player.” However, he did not disclose the amount of stake that KIMS would offload to these two funds. Mr Sahadulla added that apart from funds from PEs, KIMS was also looking at a strategic partner who would stay with the hospital for a longer period.

“We would like our partners to stay with the hospital for 5-7 years instead of exiting the hospital within 3-4 years with 25% annualised returns,” he said. KIMS plans to list the company in five years. India’s largest PE fund, ICICI Venture, has a healthcare-focused fund, I-Ven Medicare, which has a corpus of USD 250 million.  The fund has already invested in several hospitals in the country, mostly in regional hospitals in tier-II and III cities. A source said that KIMS has had initial discussions with I-Ven Medicare. However, KIMS has not finalised the valuation of the hospital and the investment plans. KIMS is the first venture of KIMS Healthcare Management, started by a group of doctors and entrepreneurs. The hospital, which was commissioned in 2002, runs a 450-bed multi-specialty hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.

Fortis plans medical institute in Punjab, to invest INR 100 cr

Medical service provider Fortis Health Care plans to set up an institute, which will also house a cancer research hospital, in Punjab at an initial investment of INR 100 crore. “We have submitted a detailed plan to Punjab Government to upgrade the healthcare services in the state which includes setting a medical education centre that would include nursing school, OPD centre and a large cancer hospital,” Fortis Healthcare CEO Shivinder Singh said. State officials said Fortis’ plans include setting up a chain of medical centres on a private-public-partnership model. The total investments in the initial phase would be to the tune of INR 100 crore, the officials said. The plan is to set up a large hospital, with capacity of 100-250 beds linked to the OPD services, the officials said, adding the firm was looking at replicating the model in other parts of the state.

A high rate of cancer in Punjab, particularly in Malwa region, and absence of proper treatment facilities force people to go to hospitals in neighbouring state of Rajasthan.

The hospital would also help in providing medical care to the patients coming from across the border, officials said. According to the data available with the government a large number of patients from countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan come to India via Amritsar for treatment and there is a big demand for a quality private hospital in the region. The company had earlier said it was targeting to own 40 hospitals by 2011 and it can be through acquisitions, setting up greenfield facility or through PPP model.

Intel gets FDA OK for personal health system

Intel Corp, the world’s biggest computer chip maker, recently won clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to sell an in-home health monitoring system for patients with chronic conditions.

The system, called Health Guide, combines an in-home patient device as well as online access that enables health care professionals to monitor patients and remotely manage care. It incorporates interactive tools for personalised care management and integrates vital sign collection, patient reminders, multimedia educational content and feedback, and communications tools such as video conferencing and e-mail.

The Health Guide system can connect to specific models of wired and wireless medical devices, including blood pressure monitors, glucose meters, pulse oximeters, peak flow meters and weight scales.

It also stores and displays collected information on a touch screen and sends to a secure host server, where health care professionals can review the information. Sources said the system would initially be marketed to insurance companies, healthcare providers and governments. The company is still doing pilot studies and initial results suggest using the system will save money.

Medical device makers Medtronic Inc and St. Jude Medical Inc already have remote monitoring systems for heart patients. Burns said he viewed those systems as complements, rather than competitors, to Health Guide. Intel said it expects Health Guide to be commercially available from health care providers in the United States and the UK late this year or early next year. The system could be expanded to include patients just discharged from the hospital, as well as the generally healthy population looking to stay well.

Piramal Health inks marketing deal with US co BioElectronics

Piramal Healthcare is set to clinch yet another in-licensing deal. The company has concluded a marketing deal with US-based firm BioElectronics to market the latter’s pain management equipment, ActiPatch. The deal is likely to be announced sometime next month, sources said.

Confirming this, Piramal Life Sciences vice-chairperson Swati Piramal said, “We have a strong marketing and distribution network and we are capitalising on that. We have a team that is continuously on the look out for such alliances. The product is going to be launched in August.” This alliance, she added, was solely intended for marketing.

BioElectronics is the developer and marketer of ActiPatch, a medical device, which delivers pulsed electromagnetic frequency (PEMF) therapies to accelerate healing of soft tissue injuries.

Lawson eyes S. Asia via India presence

Taking its operations in South Asia to the next level, ERP software, applications and services provider Lawson Software has formally opened its first office in India in New Delhi.

The company has so far been servicing clients in India and Sri Lanka through partnerships with Symphony Services and ETP International. The India office will help the company build its South Asia presence and forge new partnerships, said Harry Debes, president and chief executive officer, Lawson Software. “We have been investing USD 7-10 million annually over the last three years in expanding our presence in the Indian market through our partnership with Symphony Services. With new partnerships with companies like KPIT and Ptex Solutions being added in recent times, we hope to continue adding clients in niche areas like equipment rental services and distribution. These will be focus areas for Lawson in India,” Debes said.

St Paul, Minnesota-based Lawson presently has over 400 customers in Asia in targeted industries like fashion, food and beverage, equipment service and rentals, distribution and manufacturing.

Lawson saw a turnover of USD 854 million during fiscal 2008, a significant portion of it being realised by the acquisition of Intentia International during Q4 of 2006.

“We focussed on sectors with huge growth potential like healthcare, retail, maintenance, distribution and manufacturing which had not received the attention they deserved from larger players operating in the ERP space. The focus will continue to be on verticals like these, not on client size or deal size,” Debes said.

The company cornered 60% of the US healthcare ERP market in 2007, according to research firm Gartner. It presently has 4,500 hospitals on its client list worldwide.

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