After setting up its National Reference Laboratory in Navi Mumbai, Lupin Diagnostics is looking for franchise partners in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and other North-Eastern states as part of expanding its footprint in the fiscal year 2023.
Patients will be able to avail of diagnostic services in Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa and Orissa in the upcoming year. This is line with Lupin’s aim is to be among the top 5 players in the organized diagnostics sector in the next five years.
During the launch period, Lupin diagnostic services will be available in multiple cities in West India like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, and Kolhapur and East India in Kolkata, Siliguri, Patna, Ranchi, and Guwahati. The company will be expanding towards the Northern part of the country, attaining Pan India reach through LupiMitra (Collection Centres).
In an exclusive interview with the Financial Express Online, Ravindra Kumar, Vice President & Head, Lupin Diagnostics talks about the organised diagnostics sector , regulatory environment, challenges and the plans ahead. Excerpt
How is Lupin Diagnostics going to leverage Lupin’s existing connection with doctors?
Diagnostics is the first step to disease management, as without accurate identification of disease there is no possibility for accurate treatment which further reflects in good health of the patient. As per industry estimates, In India evidence-based treatment is a new normal and about 70% of treatment decisions are based on diagnostics tests. Hence, this led to the foundation of the Lupin Diagnostics division.
The medical fraternity in India comprises 1.2 million qualified doctors. Our pathology and laboratory services will form an essential component of modern healthcare services, backed by comprehensive quality standards accreditation across a wide range of disciplines. Therefore, we will partner with doctors in ensuring the best possible care for their patients.
Lupin Diagnostics primarily aims to differentiate itself on the basis of quality. Of the existing 1 Lakh plus diagnostic labs in India, only 3% are NABL accredited and follow NABL norms of quality protocols. Lupin’s existing doctor-network will enable it to offer reliable insights to doctors and in turn help improve patient outcomes.
Penetration of labs in the rural parts of India is very low making quality diagnostics unreachable for nearly 66% of the Indian population. In this direction, Lupin has already set up seven centers so far and plans to expand across multiple states through greenfield and brownfield investments.
What will be the firm’s strategies to gain a foothold in a competitive market like diagnostics?
We have set up a 45,000 square feet National Reference Laboratory (NRL) in Navi Mumbai. NRL has world-class infrastructure and equipment and is one of the largest labs in India. The laboratory has the capabilities to conduct a broad spectrum of over 2500 tests both super-specialized and routine. These tests are in the field of COVID-19 RT PCR, Molecular Diagnostics, Cytogenetics, Flow cytometry, Histopathology, Cytology, Immunohistochemistry, Microbiology, Serology, Haematology, Immunology, Biochemistry, etc.
We follow a ‘Quality First’ philosophy. All our laboratories adhere to the National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories (NABL) & International CAP guidelines. Also, our temperature control logistics and home collection sample movement is unique in India. Pre-analytical errors account for the major reason for erroneous reports where we are making sure that those gaps are ZERO at Lupin Diagnostics. We are committed to providing quality reports measures from the time the samples are collected till such time they are assessed. Our ambition is to be among the top 5 players in the organized diagnostics sector in the next five years, driven by both, greenfield and brownfield investments.
What are the challenges ahead in terms of competition from the unorganized players which largely dominate the market?
As per Industry estimates, Diagnostics in India is still 16% organised and 84% unorganized in the present scenario. India needs a quality driven organization that doesn’t talk quality but walks the talk, with error-free and timely reports with patient care in the heart, which will further assist inaccurate treatment of patients.
The big challenge for the players is to provide quick and efficient service to the patients, creating a safe and patient-friendly environment in the labs, fast-tracking test results and sharing those in online or digital mode.
What are the challenges in terms of no entry barriers for unorganized players in the diagnostics space? What are the regulatory challenges and the way ahead for the diagnostics industry?
The total diagnostic market in India is estimated at Rs. 90,000 crores annually and it is annually growing almost 15-16% CAGR Y-O-Y. Of this only 16% is being managed by organized players. There are a little over 1 Lakh diagnostic labs in India, but due to low entry barriers and regulations, some of them fail to follow basic protocols or lack accreditations, due to which the diagnostics industry faces a backlash.
There are only 2800+ Labs that are NABL Accredited and are following NABL norms of Quality Protocols, which in turn is just about 3% of the total lab count of India. There is also very low penetration of labs in the rural parts of India making quality Diagnostics unreachable for 66% of the Indian population.
NABL has also initiated a lot of measures in terms of putting in place a track and trace system to assure quality control in sample collection and monitoring. Please share your perspective on the move.
We are delighted to read about the move, as this will empower the patient and doctors for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Preanalytical errors are a major reason behind erroneous test results across the diagnostics landscape. At Lupin Diagnostics, our temperature-controlled sample movement is a well-thought-through step towards the goal of providing accurate and quality Diagnostics.
We are communicating with the government, on various levels, to ensure that all machinery and mechanisms proposed are of top quality for the benefit of the patients at large. A large part of our processes are automated, right from Sample collection to reporting delivery and there is limited manual intervention when it comes to reporting.