Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator of Association of, Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD)

It brings little cheer that the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked India at 30th position on a global manufacturing index. India would not have ranked amongst top 30 had it not been due to its sheer market size which is 5th largest in the World. The irony is India is far behind small countries like Czech Republic and Austria, which are not even half the size of Gujarat.

Make in India was a slogan and a vision. This emotional excellent connect needs to be backed by policy and the start was the public procurement order by DIPP. Next needed is implementation of a strategy to achieve the vision. So far Make in India is a song that’s been marketed without even having written all the lyrics. And that rings starkly true when it comes to medical devices.

To sell any product- its quality and performance specifications being claimed by manufacturer/ seller needs to be vetted. The marketing fails if product fails to live up to expectations created by the hype and buyers become scarce.

Similarly, for Make in India to succeed the framework of policy, strategic roadmap (similar to a products specifications) need to be clear. Once investors can have confidence in the deliverables and implementation of strategy they will step forward and will manufacture.

The sector where manufacturing is thriving in India are automobiles with 60 percent to 100 percent basic custom duty (BCD), motor cycles with 60 percent - 75 percent BCD and bicycles with 30 percent BCD.

With introduction of GST the differential duty advantage available for mobile phones and consumer electronics was no more there and all foreign investors who had stepped forward were feeling stressed. The government rightly revised custom duty on electronics up to 20 percent recently to maintain the investment climate and same is sought for medical electronics where import dependency is 90 percent.

To implement Make in India on ground and to reduce 70 percent import dependency of the over USD 10 billion Indian market of medical devices, the Government of India should provide:

A long term and predictable tariff strategy. Investors will invest if they will find it viable and profitable to manufacture medical devices in India and an increase in the BCD on medical devices in the range of 10–15 percent is desirable for enabling nominal protection.

MoHFW to expedite a buy Indian policy of preferential pricing for Indian medical device and have weightage for ICMED/ISO Certification, and for design India certification for promoting quality and indigenous development.

Till we have regulations enforce ban on refurbished medical equipment of over 3 years for ensuring patient safety.

Make IS/ISO 13485 Standard mandatory for medical devices under BIS Act as an interim regulatory measure for patient safety till we get a medical device law.

Department of pharmaceuticals should accelerate trade margin capping proposal in the range of 50-100 percent, depending on the value of the devices or ask Department of Revenue to introduce a tax based disincentive to discourage importer/ manufacturer from labeling high MRP to protect consumers. This will encourage ethical marketing.

The size of medical device market in India is over USD 10 billion (approx Rs. 65,000 crore) but we are a hugely import dependent country in this critical healthcare segment. Piecemeal reforms will not work. In order for India to emerge as a global medical devices manufacturing hub, it is high time India takes urgent policy measures to exploit the positive emotional connect of the Make in India shared vision.

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