India plans medical device industrial parks as part of ‘Make in India’ campaign

If developed, the industrial parks would be a significant win for Modi’s “Make in India” campaign, and in a manufacturing arena that is underdeveloped. India imports 75% of its medical devices.  In addition, several reforms are planned as the country tries to replicate its success in pharmaceutical manufacturing in the device arena, according to a newly released government report on increasing production of high-end devices.

“Unfortunately we are an importing country as far as medical devices go, with our domestic industry accounting for 2% of the global industry which stands at $250 billion.  This is what we are aiming to change over the next five years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra bhai Modi as we align with his vision to ‘Make in India,'” said union minister Ananth Kumar, according to Indian news outlet The Economic Times.  The recommendations include banning the importation of secondhand diagnostics and minimizing import duties on raw materials needed for device production.  Another significant initiative is a plan to regulate medical devices separately from pharmaceuticals.

The business lobbying group, The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), commended the plans for medical device parks and reforms to trading practices, but worried about federal price controls on medical devices, which remain unaffordable to most Indians.

In a statement in The Economic Times referencing a recent move enabling foreign device companies to set up fully owned subsidiaries in the country, CII said, “The earlier announced 100 percent FDI under automatic route in medical devices will be undermined (by price controls) and will also hamper Make in India as industry will not invest in a price controlled environment. Therefore a right balance is required between access, affordability and return on innovation.”

Meanwhile, The Times of India reports that GE Healthcare ($GE) is now manufacturing a low-cost CT imaging scanner in India. It is the company’s 26th “super value” device manufactured in India, and most sophisticated. Others include mobile x-ray equipment, baby warmers and portable ECG machines.  The company is also conducting a training program in the country, with a goal of developing 100,000 healthcare workers over the next 5 years.

REFERENCE:  Fierce Medical Devices; 10 APR 2015; Varun Saxena

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