Budget 2018: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had always stressed on ensuring affordable health care for all in India. PM Modi had even asserted that reducing dependence on other countries for getting medical equipment is crucial for achieving the target. However, a wide gap exists in local manufacturing of high-quality medical devices, according to FICCI. “There has been a substantial increase in customs duty on medical devices (items falling under HSN 9018 and 9021). This has adversely impacted costs for these products in India where the Government agenda is to provide low-cost health care available to masses. This is especially important in view of the fact that a significant 67-70% of healthcare spends is through private spending,” the industry body says. FICCI has recommended the central government to restore the import duty rates on medical devices to earlier rate of 5% import duty (BCD) where the overall import duty costs were within range of 5% -10% and commensurate with import duty rates in other competing economies like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia etc.
Earlier, Union Health Minister J P Nadda had urged public-funded institutions in the country to play a role in increasing manufacture of indigenous medical devices and equipment. Nadda had said many states were setting up Medtech Parks to encourage domestic entrepreneurs to start manufacturing medical devices and equipment. However, the growth of medical device industry is hampered by lack of adequate testing support for regulatory compliance, limited availability of manpower, lack of adequate industrial R&D, high cost and inaccessibility of imported technology, he had said. “Public-funded institutions need to take up the role of catalyst and facilitator for increasing the share of indigenous manufacturing (of medical devices and equipment) from the current 25 per cent,” he had said.
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The Union Minister had said the Indian medical devices market stood at Rs 24,000 crore and showed an impressive growth rate, at 12-15 per cent of the compound annual growth rate. “Unfortunately, 75 per cent of the demand is met through imports while the nascent domestic industry predominantly manufactures low-risk products,” he said. With all the technological developments, advent of multinational corporations and upcoming regulatory policy, the medical devices industry is poised for tremendous growth, Nadda had said.
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The Minister had pointed out that some of the technologies that call for immediate attention were low-cost diagnostic machines such as MRI, CT, cardiac catheterisation laboratories and Digital Subtraction Angiography machines. The need of the hour is for a good, open, transparent and mutually beneficial partnership between research/academic institutions and universities with the government science agencies, he said.