The Indian medical device industry is experiencing rapid growth, demonstrating comparable efficacy in devices manufactured domestically compared to their imported counterparts. The potential for the Indian medical devices industry to grow from $12 billion to $50 billion by 2030 is significant, projecting a 35% reduction in imports and a $3.4 billion increase in exports. The launch of MedTech Mitra by the Union Government is a commendable initiative aimed at fostering the growth of the Indian medical device industry.
Encouraging Domestic Innovation in Medical Devices
Hospitals in India need to reconsider their procurement strategies and transition towards utilizing medical devices made in India. This shift will not only result in cost reductions but will also encourage innovation in medical devices. Currently, many Indian hospitals opt for refurbished Western medical devices, such as MRI machines, CT scans, and Cath labs, primarily due to the exorbitant cost of acquiring new Western medical devices. Going forward, hospital owners are encouraged to prioritize the purchase of Indian medical devices over refurbished Western alternatives, especially in the initial stages.
Addressing Pricing Disparities and Ensuring Quality
Imported medical devices are often priced excessively. For example, in 2014, the Indian government regulated the pricing of coronary stents. Since then, many Indian stent companies have begun manufacturing stents in India and have even started exporting them, showcasing the quality of Indian stents on par with their Western counterparts. The positive outcomes observed over the last decade should extend across all medical devices. The absence of government monitoring or control over medical device pricing poses a challenge to achieving Universal Health Coverage.
Challenges in Sustaining Imported Devices Over Time
A critical issue influencing hospitals to opt for imported devices is the perception that they last longer. However, recent trends indicate that these devices receive no support from the main company after 7 to 10 years, rendering them unsupported. Expensive medical devices in India often fail to break even even after a decade, with warranties provided by medical devices lasting no more than 2 to 3 years. Comprehensive Maintenance Contracts (CMC) incur costs equivalent to 10% of the purchase price. Consequently, when investing in an expensive imported machine, factors contributing to financial loss include the absence of long-term support from the main company, warranties lasting no more than three years, and CMC costs equaling the monthly installment of the machine. Therefore, beyond the initial three years, hospitals find themselves paying double the monthly installment, making the choice of imported devices less economically viable in the long run.
In conclusion, the rapid growth of the Indian medical device industry presents a significant opportunity for hospitals to embrace locally manufactured devices. By prioritizing Indian-made medical devices, hospitals can not only contribute to the industry's growth but also ensure long-term cost-effectiveness and innovation. Government intervention in monitoring and regulating prices will play a pivotal role in achieving Universal Health Coverage, aligning with the broader healthcare goals of the nation. The shift towards indigenous medical devices is not just an economic imperative but a strategic step towards a sustainable and resilient healthcare ecosystem.