Veena Kohli, Chief Executive Officer, Vanguard Diagnostics Private Limited
The best vision is insight, as they say. When my colleagues and I founded Vanguard Diagnostics last year, the singular and overarching insight that drove our thought process was to contribute to India becoming self-reliant in in vitro diagnostics.
A majority of diagnostics products being used in Indian labs and hospitals are still being imported from across the globe. We believe that there is sufficient knowledge and expertise available in India to become self-reliant; however, what requires to be strengthened is the infrastructure and the volumes to be able to leverage the economies of scale. China is a prime example of a country thriving on the advantage of large volumes allowing them to optimize costs.
In order to build volumes within India, the first and foremost requirement would be to reduce imports drastically. We will need to take one step at a time in this direction. China is far ahead of India as far as in-house manufacturing of IVD instruments and analyzers is concerned. In India, we have negligible instruments manufacturing currently since it does not result in a significant cost advantage. With the exception of a few components like boards and algorithms, all other components need to be imported. The labor cost is too small a percentage of the total cost to tilt the balance in favor of domestic manufacturing.
The situation, however, is quite different when it comes to IVD reagents. Indian companies are equipped to do better than others in this segment for such reasons as strong understanding of chemistry and immunology; majority of raw materials are locally available; infrastructure required for manufacturing is not investment intensive; and lower labor cost is an advantage.
In spite of the above, there are very few serious manufacturers of diagnostics reagents in India out of a total of about one hundred players. The non-manufacturing companies, distributors, and traders import products and sell in India with a mark-up. The margins of such players have been significantly impacted by the depreciation of the rupee by over 39 percent during the last 5 years. This, along with the complexity of obtaining import licenses and high import duty on reagents has highlighted an unmet need for a dedicated and experienced diagnostics group that could serve as their domestic manufacturing arm, ensuring consistent and quality supplies without getting impacted by currency fluctuations, importation taxes, and exorbitant freight costs.
Domestic manufacturing partner. Vanguard Diagnostics' vision is to fulfill this unmet need of the industry through its team of professionals with rare skillset, covering the entire value chain of capabilities, encompassing R&D, manufacturing, quality, marketing, supply chain, and domestic and global business leadership. We position ourselves as the reliable reagents manufacturing partner for all the non-manufacturing diagnostics companies operating in India. We offer to customize manufacturing under the Vanguard brand, OEM, third party and neutral label formats tailored to the needs of our partners.
Vanguard Diagnostics has set up a state-of-the-art unit at New Delhi to manufacture reagents for all major segments of IVD. It has a capacity to produce over 1.5 million liters of reagents annually. The facility is ISO13485 certified and the products CE marked. We manufacture high-quality reagents for hematology, clinical chemistry, and immunology.
New products, new technologies. We have recently commenced domestic manufacturing of 5-Part hematology reagents under license from Diagon, Hungary. Vanguard is amongst a handful of Indian manufacturers of 5-Part reagents. The company is also launching Diagon's hematology controls for all leading models of 3-Part and 5-Part differential analyzers. These controls have unprecedented shelf lives and open vial stabilities and a price tag all can afford.
Make in India. The vision, mission, and objectives of Vanguard Diagnostics could be succinctly stated in just one sentence - to build an Indian brand that stands for responsibility and reliability across diagnostics markets.