India spends substantial foreign exchange to import 90% products in IVD, imaging, critical care segments

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Around 90 per cent of total products is being imported in India in IVD, imaging and critical care segments leading to India spending a substantial foreign exchange, according to Nitin Sawant, president, diagnostics, Trivitron raising the need for low cost high end diagnostics in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

The main reason for the imports is that most of the companies across the globe do not manufacture products as per the market requirements in India.

Sawant explains that we are forced to import and use a product which is not fit for us. Many Indian companies like us are getting into developing the products as per our local requirements and are trying to make it available at affordable prices.

That is how, prices of new born screening (NBS) kits for basic and advanced testing have come down by 40 per cent. Having introduced the kits in Government NBS screening programme in Kerala, Tamilnadu and Goa, Trivitron started manufacturing and promoting these kits at the point of care since 2012 through its subsidiary Labsystems Diagnostics in Finland.

With Make in India programme started by our government, change had started. Systems supplied and supported by Trivitron are being widely used in sickle cell screening programmes, cervical cancer screening programmes and cancer diagnosis and monitoring. Trivitron has also launched LCMS Immunosupressant kit which is useful for organ transplant patients. All these kits were imported earlier and were available at high prices in India.

“Our aim is to work with the government to provide technological advancements in an affordable manner. Trivitron had started local manufacturing of basic and advanced diagnostic reagents as per requirements of our country. Through its network of channel partners and after sales support team, Trivitron is making all the efforts to make these reagents available in all parts of our country,” Sawant says.

There has been a high demand for the diagnostic laboratories industry in India because of rising demand for healthcare but lack of regulation remains a major concern, considering the risks it poses to patients. India has around 100,000 diagnostic laboratories, which include pathology laboratories and radiology centres.

The National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) is the nodal agency for accreditation of laboratories but accreditation is not mandatory. According to details on the NABL website, 783 medical laboratories have been accredited as of 31 January 2017, indicating that less than 1% of the total laboratories are accredited. This means that the rest of the diagnostics centres are operating without any guarantee of the results putting the patient’s welfare in jeopardy.

“Given the high costs involved in getting the accreditation, various small and medium size companies which cannot afford it end up not opting for the same. The Government needs to come out with basic quality standards, which all laboratories must adhere to, according to industry officials to improve quality and maintain accuracy for patients,” Sawant adds.

The healthcare sector in India has been on a rapid growth spectrum in the last decade. We have created more technical jobs, prevented brain drain to a certain extent, and most importantly brought in quality healthcare, at par with global services. Accurate access to diagnostics at a low cost will impact the overall cost of healthcare across the nation. This does not just apply to urban cities but also to tier 2 and 3 markets. In addition to diagnostics – after developing clinical symptoms, preventive healthcare through regular health check-ups is gaining importance to maintain normal and healthy lifestyle.

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