April 2018

Transasia – Ensuring Diagnosis of Disease Affordable beyond Metros

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Mala Vazirani

As technology has made diagnosis of disease accurate, faster, affordable, Indian companies like Transasia Bio-Medicals Ltd., have reached out beyond metro cities and equipped labs with sophisticated blood testing devices even in rural areas, says Mala Vazirani, Director, Transasia Bio-Medicals Limited, in an interview with Elets News Network (ENN).

Q How medical devices equipped with latest technology are playing an instrumental role in providing comprehensive healthcare delivery?

Members of Association of Indian Manufacturers of Medical Devices (AiMeD), who are all domestic manufacturers and exporters of e-share a common philosophy of being the “building blocks” of India’s fragile healthcare delivery system. In that spirit, we have taken some bold strides despite the absence of a helpful government policy. Our members know that India needs accurate, affordable and timely healthcare and are engaged in manufacturing high quality medical products of all from syringes and needles, stents and implants to high tech robotic diagnostic equipments with cuttingedge technology that helps them sell in overseas markets.

As technology has made diagnosis of disease accurate, faster, affordable, Indian companies like Transasia Bio- Medicals Ltd., have reached out beyond metro cities and equipped labs with sophisticated blood testing devices even in rural areas thereby enabling accurate early diagnosis of disease at an affordable cost across the country, the same is true of radiological investigations, like x-rays and sonography.

The data from the tests empowers doctors, sitting in remote medical centers to make accurate diagnosis and rapidly start correct treatment for patients, for patients suffering from number of life threatening conditions like Malaria, for which drugs are easily available thereby saving many lives. For more complex treatments, patients still have to travel to larger towns and cities where the qualified doctors, surgeons work out of well equipped government or private hospitals.

Q Tell us about the market opportunity and scope of medical equipment segment considered a sunshine sector of healthcare ecosystem.

The Medical Device Industry has the capability to become a growth engine for the economy create jobs, raise GDP and become a net Foreign Exchange Earner larger than Info Tech. Globally, exports of Medical Devices contribute trillions of dollars to economies of the USA, EU, China and Japan.

Less than 20 percent of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Afghans, Nepalis, South Americans, Egyptians and Africans as yet have access to effective medical services, 80 percent do not have access to any meaningful or effective modern medical services.

To understand the size of the opportunity, one needs to know that the country has a huge 70 percent import dependency in this sector while just serving 20 percent of the population. Whereas for the Indian economy, with lakhs of educated unemployed, a robust Indian Medical Device Industry would serve not just India but also the world at large. By encouraging the manufacture of import substitutes, we would be giving a huge boost to the economy, thereby, creating lakhs of jobs, giving employment and livelhood to millions if we were able to take advantage of this huge market opportunity.

Q Shed light on the challenges plaguing this medical equipment segment. What the Government should do to encourage domestic market of medical devices?

The Government has to work on removing all the impediments of earlier policies and practices that were put in place, shockingly to discourage Indian manufacturers and favour importers. Currently, the Imported Medical Devices under chapter 90 (HSN 90278090) are importable at zero basic customs duty, the components (HSN 90330000) required by domestic manufacturers to manufacture the same in India are charged 7.5 percent basic customs duty, while the fully finished Imported Medical Device is exempted from being cleared with Zero basic customs duty, thereby penalising any effort to make in India.

The Government has to reverse the discriminatory inverted customs duty tariff against the Indian manufacturers and impose basic customs duties on Medical Equipment and products that are made in India to create a level paying field for Indian Manufacturers.

They have to ensure that no Indian fanufacturer is disqualified from participating in any Tender. They have to increase the EMD on Imported goods significantly over that of Indian Manufacturers to facilitate domestic industry. The Government and nodal agencies can simply nullifying any Tender whatsoever where there is no Indian Manufacturer Participating, or disqualified before Technical and Commercial bids are opened who are disqualified on false and flimsy pretext before Technical evaluation and Price Comparisons due to excessive technical specifications and discriminatory criteria such as certification by foreign bodies like European CE and US FDA Approvals.

They have to abolish discrimination against Indian made products, by blocking their participation in Government Tenders by employing discriminatory eligibility criteria including Certification by foreign FDA;s like US FDA and European CE mark.

There has to be more focus on implementation, monitoring of compliance of Tenders and swift redressal. As yet they are still to dismantle fully do away with ambiguity and discretionary powers to procuring committees for products funded by Government of India or State Governments and ensure the implementation of the Buy India Policy by Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of MSME so as to fuel the transformation of India into a Global Medical Decice Provider, akin to the success of the IT sector.

Q AiMeD recently expressed disappointment over the draft Medical Devices Preferential Market Access (PMA) Policy issued by DoP. What needs to be done?

Firstly, it is to be emphasised that only AiMeD represents the true voice of Indian manufacturers, as all our members are manufacturing firms owned and operated and headquarted in India. There is a lot coming from pseudo Indian associations that are in reality made up of MNCs and importers, whose effective control, management and headquarters are overseas but have been enjoying the free and protected access to Indian Market, especially lucrative government and private contracts due to the shackles of inverted duty structure and discriminatory Tender terms in Government Tenders to favour importers.

They are making a lot of noise as it appears that in future they may not gain such favourable access and preferential treatment and so are at work to cause confusion and gain support in government circles and misguide the general public about policy matters misrepresenting themselves to be the voice of “Indian” Industry, when they are foreign MNC’s operating in India.

AiMeD has made recommendations to the Government particularly the Department of Pharmaceuticals and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Commerce, Planning Commission etc. What we are awaiting isbthe specific details from the nodal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the rules based on policy initiatives taken by the Cabinet Committee to give the impetus like the Prefrential Procurement Policy.

We require clear rules free of ambiguity and discretion that are easy to follow and implement by the procuring authorities who should be held accountable for proper implementation on the and outcomes on the ground. Value of Government orders going to Indian Manufacturers must increase substantially, and be measured at close intervals and so must the share in procurement in all sectors.

When there is a clear Buy India Policy, and Preferential Procurement form Local Manufacturers, why should the local manufacturer be burdened with providing so many documents to prove he is manufacturing when the government officials already can access all information about the importer and imported goods through government tax portals for customs duty and IGST on imports.

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