The Indian diagnostics industry has a number of players who have opened doors to various opportunities. According to the Praxis Global Alliance released earlier this year, the industry is expected to grow at around 14 percent touching $20 billion by 2026 from $10 billion in 2021.
Interestingly, the report highlighted that non-traditional competitors are entering the market due to attractive margins. During the FE Healthcare Summit, held on September 30, eminent industry leaders highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on the diagnostics industry and how it has unleashed new opportunities for the players.
Financial Express.com got a chance to speak to Dr. A Velumani, Founder Thyrocare at the FE Healthcare Summit, one of the key panelists of the sessions, “Diagnostics: COVID & Beyond” and he talked about how the competition among the numerous has led to optimum patient care. Exerpts:
As there are a lot of players in the diagnostics industry, there is high competition. How do you see this as an opportunity and challenge?
The competition is good and without competition, the customer will not get what he deserves. So, be it any industry, competition is very important. But competition in what? is another thing. Competition in quality or cost or speed and these three things decide the power of the diagnostic player. Since there are no entry barriers, the competition will be there and you will find new laboratories coming in. The market is also very big.
You have witnessed various phases of the diagnostic industry. What are the hits and misses and what more needs to be done? India is known as the pharmacy of the world, how can we become the diagnostic centre of the world?
See, pharmacy is a product and you can tonnes of drugs and export and labs are a service. Of course, if we are good at it we can set up laboratories worldwide which one day India might do. Right now, we have expertise in a market that is unorganised, we have expertise in a market that has out-of-pocket expenditure and we are in a market in which the cost of lowest. So, this market is very different from that of a developed country. For over a period of time, we might get into the global space. As of today, there is some global attempt but I don’t think all put together five players or six players who have some international operations anything more than 2 percent of the dollar market. So, in that way, it will take its own time. Pharma is 25 years ahead of diagnostics and we have to keep this in mind.
We know that if we can name something we can treat it. Diagnosis is extremely important to find the cure for the disease. Do you think our outlook toward diseases has changed? People are not more conscious about health. How can this be an opportunity for the diagnostic market?
For dangerous diseases, there is no easy diagnosis. For a disease that is not killing, there are various diagnostic tests. So, currently, the diagnostic market is not as big as it should be because for vital problems we don’t have specific markers. So, it may take some more time for that to evolve. But having said that western world can even liberally spend money for even a small solution. Indians will not spend money on small solutions. In the western world, the majority of the market is when the patient is not in the hospital, and in India, the majority of the market is when the patient is having an illness. So, these two markets are very different and only time will change them. India also needs to move up the ladder of per capita income and then there will be some kind of similarity will be there.
Currently, what are the disease segments that need special attention?
Number one is Tuberculosis as it kills a lot of people. It is a direct killer and the indirect killer is diabetes. The disease doesn’t kill directly but it has complications. Third, of course, is cancer. Cancer, Cardiac diseases, TB, and diabetes–These four are the major challenges, major revenue segments, major opportunities, and major potentials.
Anything else that you would like to add?
The industry is going through turbulence and only a few players are doing differentiation. The players who are differentiating will be long-term larger players. Other players will find it difficult to survive in the long run.