Govt plans industrial parks for production of high-end medical devices

The government is planning to set up medical devices parks in the country, to encourage the production of high-end medical devices in the country. The first such park will come up in Gujarat soon, union minister of chemicals and fertilisers Ananth Kumar said on Wednesday.

He said currently only 30 per cent of the country's requirement of medical devices is being met through indigenous production, and that too of the low-end category, adding that there was a felt need to encourage domestic manufacture of critical medical equipment.

The minister made the comments while releasing the recommendations of a task force on promotion of domestic production of high-end medical devices and pharmaceutical manufacturing equipment.

Ananth Kumar said the task force's recommendations will be implemented in a time bound manner. The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Ahmedabad will be the nodal institute for undertaking research and development in the area, he added.

The minister said the government is taking several steps to boost domestic production of high-end medical devices and pharmaceutical manufacturing equipment, adding that the department of chemicals and pharmaceuticals has already taken up issues of incentives and taxation on such devices with the finance ministry.

The aim is to promote indigenous production of medical devices that can compete with the imported ones, he said.

The government, he said, is thinking in terms of setting up a separate department to handle the issues of facilitation and regulation of high-end medical devices and pharmaceutical manufacturing equipment, as their consumption is increasing very fast and there is a need to make India self-dependent in the sector.

In fact, he said, there should be a National List of Essential Medical Devices, similar to the National List of Essential Medicines, to make available quality products to masses easily.

The task force has, meanwhile, recommended measures to enhance policy and institutional support, strengthening of infrastructural support as also fiscal and financial support to the sector.

In addition, the task force has recommended measures for creating an institutional set-up for efficacy and safety testing, promoting skill development, strengthening R&D capability, evolving a pricing strategy and a conducive regulatory environment for the sector.

Medical devices industry is a multi-product industry, producing a wide range of products - from syringes and needles to robot doctors. India is importing around 69 per cent of its total requirement of medical devices. The imports of high-end medical devices are much higher, going up to around 87 per cent for the category of medical electronics, hospital equipment, surgical instruments.

The task force was headed by secretary, department of pharmaceuticals and consisted of representatives from the Planning Commission, department of health and family welfare, department of health research, DCGI, department of commerce, department of industrial policy and promotion, department of electronics and information technology and various industry associations, including AIMED, CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, FOPE etc.