The call for a separate department for medical devices has come up again, with the industry writing to the Prime Minister on the issue.
Stressing the need for a dedicated department that differentiates between the pharmaceutical and medical devices segments of industry, the letter from Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) urged the Centre to change the name of the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) to include medical devices as well or have a separate department. “The current name reflects the focus on the mature sector of pharmaceuticals and the ignored import dependent sector of medical devices,” said the letter.
The change is necessary, the industry said, as the country is still at about 80 per cent import-dependent when it comes to medical devices. The present DoP under the Chemicals and Fertilizers Ministry has had limited success in improving the manufacturing of medical devices in the country, they said, besides having limited expertise to handle the precision devices industry. There was little synergy between devices industry and its apex ministry, they pointed out.
“India remains 70 to 80 percent import dependent, with import crossing ₹63,000 crore in 2021-2022, and estimated market of ₹1,60,000 crore at retail and institutional level, but with a huge investment opportunity of over ₹80,000 crore,” said the letter, adding that the governing authorities need to be supported with expertise in the fields of medical, bio medical engineering, product development and marketing, from across departments.
The recast department should aim to make India among the top five manufacturing hubs for medical devices worldwide, besides being a nodal interface between manufacturing and the government departments. Besides encouraging industry to Make in India and for India and defining priority diseases, the letter called for the implementation of a strategy to shift India’s import dependency from over 70 per cent to less than 30 per cent in five years for priority devices and the next 10 years for all devices. The letter also called for a Special Purpose Vehicle Fund for government to jointly own patents and intellectual property and infuse $75 million or ₹500 crore as equity for long gestation research and development projects.