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“Source: Economic Times”
New Delhi: The government is stitching up a plan to lure the medical devices industry to Make in India , along the lines of telecom and electronics, seeking to cut reliance on imports and lower costs.

Niti Aayog, the government’s think tank, has started work on the plan, which comes as the US spars with India over price curbs imposed on medical devices to make them affordable. “The Aayog will soon come out with a roadmap to promote development of medical devices under the Make in India initiative,” a senior government official told ET.

The mega plan is to eventually make India a manufacturing hub for medical devices of international standards that caters to the domestic and overseas markets.

Initially, the products would be diagnostic devices to screen for cancer and heart diseases and later pacemakers, ventilators, dialysis machines and CT scanners, among others, would be added.

The plan being considered for medical devices is similar to the incentive package that provides capital subsidy of up to 25% for the electronics industry and has helped boost local production of mobiles in the country.

Niti Aayog member VK Saraswat chaired a high-level meeting on Wednesday to discuss issues holding up indigenous manufacturing of medical devices, said another person who was present at the discussions. The secretaries of all stakeholder ministries, including the ministry of health, attended the meeting.

“The government is trying to ensure that all roadblocks are removed so that India can catch up with lost time as other countries including China are way ahead,” the person said, adding that an announcement on this is expected soon.

India’s medical devices market is the fo-urth largest in Asia — after Japan, China and South Korea — at over $10 billion and is projected to grow to $50 billion by 2025.

Currently, India has 750-800 medical device manufacturers, with an average investment of Rs 170-200 million and an average turnover of Rs 450-500 million.

The Aayog’s plan could look at part-funding of capital expenditure incurred on research and production to benefit manufacturers and startups, officials aware of the deliberations said.

India allows 100% foreign direct investment in medical devices on the automatic route, but investors have been wary, citing an unpredictable regulatory environment.

The price curbs imposed on medical devices had also irked companies and have become a key trade issue between the US and India.

While there are over 6,000 medical devices available worldwide, barely onesixth of them are made in India and only 23 were notified by the government under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, until last year.

In February this year, the government included implantable medical devices under the purview of the act, thus regulating their sale, manufacture and import to ensure that only safe and tested medical devices reach users.

“If we are serious about placing India among the top five global medical devices manufacturing hubs, then one needs to understand that piecemeal reforms will not work,” said Rajiv Nath, forum coordinator of the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry.

 

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