Pharmacy chain Medplus Health Services has opened its first five regional diagnostic centres already and has plans for 50 more by the end of the fiscal as it diversifies into the lucrative market for diagnostic services. The regional diagnostic centres for routine tests will first be launched in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. A total of INR 20 crore will be invested to set up the 50 centres. MedPlus Pathlabs, a fully-owned subsidiary of MedPlus Health Services, has been operating a clinical reference laboratory for complex clinical tests for the past eight months. “We want to be the first port of call for consumers, both for their pharmaceutical as well as diagnostic needs, MedPlus PathLabs COO Surendra Mantena said. Being part of the organised segment, it would attempt to bring standardisation to the market for clinical testing services, he observed. “There are 40,000 diagnostic labs in the country, mostly individually run, which accounts for the high degree of inconsistency in the services.” The chain plans to add 600 outlets by March 2009, with 70% of these as franchises. “Increasing access to healthcare and expanding the preventive care segment have ensured huge potential for growth in the INR 500 crore diagnostic services market, which is growing at 25%, and is likely to grow at a much faster rate,” Dr Mantena said. MedPlus claims to have a 30% share of the organised pharmaceutical retail market, with a turnover of INR 100 crore in the last fiscal. It is aiming for leadership in diagnostic services with a 40%-50% market share.