Rajesh M Patel heads the business operations at Meril Diagnostics Private Limited. In an email conversation with ENNs Rajesh K Sharma, he talks about how the young company is making a name for itself in the IVD space, both nationally and internationally, as well as the challenges that he foresees
Please give us a brief description of Meril Diagnostics presence in the IVD space? What areas in this space do you service?
Meril Diagnostics is a part of the Bilakhia group. It entered the IVD space in a planned manner; the company set up a research and development facility in 2009 to ensure development of quality indigenous instruments and reagents. Before its commercial launch in early 2013, the company was fairly successful in designing several indigenous instruments and reagents. In order to serve laboratories of all sizes, from small to medium size and up to large sized chains hospital-based laboratories, we invested heavily in technology, getting a wide range of products ranging from semi-automated to high throughput fully-automated analyzer. Currently, we serve the Biochemistry, Immunology, Hematology, Coagulation, Critical Care, Diabetes Management and Rapid range segments of the IVD industry through our products.
Has the Indian IVD market delivered on the promise that it held? How do you think the market will grow in the future?
At present, there are very few Indian IVD companies that have research and development facilities to bring new products to cater the existing and changing needs of laboratories in India. In fact, more than two-thirds of IVD required in India is still catered by foreign products, including the raw materials required for making the IVD products. Indian companies have produced products that have been well appreciated by the industry for their Quality and affordability. Indian IVD sector has attracted the MNCs to set up their operations here, however the Indian economy sometimes becomes a barrier when we try to bring new products in the market.
What is the status on innovation happening in the IVD industry? Please tell us about the R&D taking place at Meril.
The emerging technologies like Molecular techniques, Multiplex, Allergy, Quantification of Syphilis, Point-of- care texting (POCT) are leading the growth in the IVD segment. Perhaps most interesting innovation for this industry is the way these new technologies are finding their way into traditional testing segments.
At Meril, we have associated ourselves with some international partners in developing new tests for Syphilis quantification, allergy, Infectious Rapids and Chemiluminescence analyzers.
The IVD manufacturing space is crowded, with MNCs as well asIndian manufacturers. Has this made the IVD segment price sensitive?
There are certain new products like smaller throughput automation, differential kit sizes, more pocket friendly products to laboratories that are a direct result of this crowding of the IVD segment. However, any overall impact on prices in IVD has not been observed in the last few years. The result of the increased competition has been that most companies have compromised on their bottom lines further and the margins have narrowed down due to the price sensitivity.
The entry of foreign IVD companies from countries such as China, Taiwan, and Korea has also made thesector more competitive, thereby making it more price sensitive.
“At present, there are very few Indian IVD companies that have research and development facilities to bring new products”
How has been the response to your products outside India? Given your exposure to foreign manufacturing, how does Indian manufacturing match up?
Meril Diagnostics is a fairly new entrant in IVD space and therefore we do not have anything substantial to share currently. However, we have presence in many countries and our products have been appreciated for their quality and performance. In the IVD space, there is no shortage of talent in India. India has done fairly well in the Biochemistry segment as well. However, there is no substantial contribution from Indian manufacturers in segments like Hematology and Immunochemistry. We at Meril have setup a state-of-the-art 300,000 sq foot plant which is Asias largest manufacturing research and development facility as a testimony to the commitment and vision to cater to the global IVD market in the future. We plan to fill the gaps that currently exist in Immunology, Hemostasis, Rapid tests and several other disciplines of this sector. We strongly believe that in the next five years, Meril Diagnostic will bring several innovative products that will be world class and compete with the best.