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Focusing on Universal Healthcare Needs

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Stephen OesterleSenior Vice President - Medicine and Technology, Medtronic plc

Stephen Oesterle
Senior Vice President – Medicine and Technology,
Medtronic plc

In India, there is a need for favourable policy environment, bringing in regulatory clarity and providing incentives to increase competitiveness of medical devices companies in a transparent and healthy manner, says Dr. Stephen Oesterle, Senior Vice President – Medicine and Technology, Medtronic plc

Please comment on medical technology market in India visa- vis the global market

The medical equipment and devices industry, valued at US$ 2.5 billion contributes only six percent of India’s US$ 40 billion healthcare sector. Moreover, it is growing at a faster annual rate of 15 percent than 10-12 percent growth seen in the healthcare sector in its entirety. A rise in the number of hospitals and the increased requirement for healthcare facilities creates a need for sophisticated devices and equipment, which can provide accurate treatment to individuals.

The key drivers for growth of medical technology sector in India are economic growth leading to higher disposable incomes, increased public spending and focus of government on healthcare, increased private investment in healthcare, and increased penetration of health insurance.

On current operations in India and your expansion plans

Established in 1979, Medtronic has been directly represented in India for over 35 years. Its business region extends to South Asia that includes India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The company has more than 1000 employees covering the length and breadth of the region. The focus in this region remains on increasing awareness and accessibility to therapies and for this, we have Indiacentric programs like Healthy Heart for All and Shruti.

What percentage of your company’s global annual revenue comes from the Asia Pacific market? Please elaborate.

Asia Pacific is a very prominent market for us. In the last fiscal year its contribution was close to about 16 percent of the total revenue – which includes South Asia, China, ASEAN region, Australia and Japan.

It includes some of the largest emerging markets like China and India and some developed markets like Japan and Australia.

What are your views on the price sensitivity of the Indian market, and how does your company counter this problem?

Our strategy is to focus on addressing what we call, the universal healthcare needs. We address these needs through three core strategies: therapy innovation, globalization and economic value.

We have set up R&D centers here to find solutions and devices that will help increase economic value to the patients and clinicians and therefore make healthcare more accessible for the people.

We understand kidney disease is a problem of many in India and so we are concentrating on the development of a new dialysis system that will benefit this large population who are underserved for treatment. Less than 10 percent of the kidney failure patients today are able to get any treatment due to scarcity of resources and the capital intensive hemodialysis centers required.

I would also like to stress here that our goals for therapy adoption and access are consistent with the government’s goals – to make affordable, quality therapies accessible to more and more people. So we are focused on partnering and collaborating with the Indian government to make this happen here in India.

What are your views on government regulation or any other challenges faced while entering or operating the Indian market?

The government’s focus is on regulating the industry to promote transparency. At the same time, it has allowed foreign investment in the industry to encourage growth and now also automatic route for FDI. Medical devices form an integral part of healthcare and the treatment of these chronic and non-communicable conditions that afflict the larger part of the population.

In India, there is a need for favourable policy environment, bringing in regulatory clarity and providing incentives to increase competitiveness of medical devices companies in a transparent and healthy manner. It is important to have clear and strong regulations and this requires strong government/ private sector partnership to strike this balance. The Indian government has shown very positive signs on their willingness to partner in these ways and we are very hopeful of positive outcomes here.

On emerging trends and new technologies

Some of the innovations in the pipeline are products such as Resolute Integrity, Onyx, DFSin the area of stents, new balloons and IVUS/FFR collaborations in other geographies, Corevalve and EvolutR (heart valves), new surgical innovation (fusion, surgical valves). We also have products like Performa, ACRT, MRI, Tyrx, Micra, Linq, arctic front and phased RF, across our cardiac rhythm and heart failure.

Another product, which we have developed keeping India in mind is the Seeq patch, which runs using cellular technology. Patients with cardiac arrhythmia are unlikely to be diagnosed by the conventional holter monitoring, or an ECG since the likelihood of symptom-ECG correlation is very low. This device monitors a patient for a long duration, and hence has a higher chance of providing a diagnosis to patients with cardiac arrythmia.

What are your company’s offerings?

Medtronic’s businesses are structured under four key business groups: Cardiac and Vascular Group (CVG), Covidien Group, Restorative Therapies Group (RTG) and Diabetes Group.

The Cardiac and Vascular Group offer therapies for cardiac rhythm disease management (CRDM), coronary and vascular diseases and structural heart diseases along with endovascular and peripheral therapies. The primary offerings under this group include pacemake r s , i m p l a n t a b l e defibrillators, heart valves, aortic stent graft systems and coronary angioplasty technologies.

The Covidien Group that includes early technologies, advanced surgical technologies and general surgical products, medical supplies, respiratory and monitoring solutions, and venous solutions.

The Restorative Therapies Group comprises of therapies for spine conditions, neuromodulation, and ENT and surgical technologies. The primary products sold include those for spinal conditions and musculoskeletal trauma, neurological disorders, urological and digestive disorders, and ear, nose, and throat conditions.

The Diabetes Group is one of the leaders in advanced diabetes management solutions, including integrated diabetes management system, insulin pump therapy and continuous glucose monitoring systems.

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