As we bring in the New Year, it may be a good idea to review what needs to be done, so that India does not miss the global MedTech ride.
2016 brought with it an increase of 7.93 percent customs duty on medical devices and equipment, almost across the board. A relook at this list is required, with duties moderately increased only for those product categories where a high level of import substitution of an acceptable quality can be obtained quickly. For India-specific production of medical devices, no doubt mandating pre-printing, as per the country-specific requirements and restrictions on shelf life, the manufacturing date over-and-above globally established representations is needed. But this will significantly increase the cost of the devices. Key policy regulations, such as the five-year cap on shelf life of medical devices and the implementation of Unique Device Identifier (UDI) for medical devices in 2017, are likely to do irreparable damage.
The government may like to keep healthcare services out of the impending GST fold. At present, healthcare services provided by all types of clinical establishments are exempted from service tax under the mega exemption notification issued in June 2012. It would be in line with the affordable healthcare services for all initiative and encourage the flow of investment in this sector. Macro effects as foreign exchange volatility and deferred equipment purchases as a result of the recent demonetization drive need to be factored in anyway.
As the emphasis on the PPP model increases, the performance index on health services launched by the think tank, Niti Aayog, to nudge states to improve health outcomes and improve data collection systems may be the answer for the interim period. It would capture the annual incremental improvements by states and provide the much needed benchmark.
2017 shall bring with it the next-generation technologies like wireless body networks, bio-sensors, micro fluids, micro electromechanical systems, and nano electromechanical systems, which will create a revolution in the field of advanced diagnosis.
On that optimistic note, we wish our readers A Very Happy New Year!