As the Government increases its spending on healthcare, and with screening playing a vital part in the plan, the load on diagnostic laboratories in the country will increase.

And here is where Roche Diagnostics sees an opportunity, says Lance Little, its newly appointed Chairman and Managing Director in India, adding that the diagnostic company seeks to work with path labs across the country to bring in quality products and infrastructure.

About 400 labs in the country are accredited by the Government’s National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, and estimates say, there are between 40 and 60,000 labs in the country, he points out.

The aim is to work in partnership with customers, be it path-labs or hospitals, rather than merely sell to them like traders, he said.

Given Roche Diagnostic’s expertise in laboratory workflow and operations, it is strengthening its offering to provide more than just quality and advanced testing instruments to customers, he explained.

The company is working with customers, small and big central laboratories, to develop a complete solution tailored to their demands, he added.

The company has worked with Hyderabad’s Continental Hospital in terms of fitting the lab and advising its lab infrastructure, besides offering similar services to Mumbai’s JJ Hospital. As a result, JJ’s clinicians now have 180 tests at their disposal, as opposed to the earlier 20, and this has resulted in quicker turn-around times, he said. Test results that took three days to come, are now received in about three-four hours.

Accessible technology

Having operated in India for about seven years, the company has clocked revenues of Rs 440 crore in 2011, he said, growing at about 13 percent. Besides China, Australia, Korea and Thailand, India is a key market for Roche in the region, he added.

In-vitro diagnostics, involving products used to test blood, fluids and tissue extracted from the body, there is an estimated market value to the tune of Rs 2,400 crore in India. The market is projected to double by 2016.

The technology needs to be accessible to the population, whether one is selling in India, Thailand or New Zealand, he added.

Screening opportunity

The company also see greater role for itself, if there is pro-active screening for cervical cancer, known to be a leading killer in women. India is touted to have 27 per cent of the global numbers. If there is Government screening, the company can provide key instrumentation that can support a central lab facility. The high-tech test helps identify all 14 high-risk genotypes, he explained. The company is also working with the Government on diabetes screening, where Roche Diagnostics provide the blood-glucose meters to test blood samples.

jyothi@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 7, 2012)
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