BENGALURU: Coronavirus scare has begun to affect the healthcare sector – both in terms of critical medicines and the supply of raw materials being used for commonly used medical devices like digital thermometers, nebulisers, blood pressure monitors and glucometers.
Manufacturers and distributors in India are worried as the key raw materials for these instruments, especially electronic parts are manufactured in China.
Meanwhile, the importers and manufacturers are unhappy as the government has not procured or created a stock of these items in the country which can anytime see a crisis like China or other South Asian countries.
Association of Indian Manufacturers of Medical Devices (AiMeD) forum coordinator Rajiv Nath told TNIE, “India needs to urgently create a stockpile of essential drugs and critical medical devices for disaster management. We are holding a meeting towards the same today with Director General Health,” he said.
Meanwhile, dependency of Indian pharma on China for raw materials is exposed in this scenario. “Almost 85% of Active Pharma Ingredients are imported from China with the bulk of it coming from areas around Hubei and Zhejiang provinces. Small manufacturers are going to suffer more since they do not typically have much in inventory with low raw material availability and price increase affecting them significantly,” Sanjay Jha, Director, ColMed said.
While AiMeD said that most of the manufacturers who are complaining of losses or raw materials becoming an issue are mainly importers who are only packaging the product and not really manufacturing any part of it.
According to Rajiv Nath, genuine players in market in terms of medical devices have second players like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Europe who can supply the raw materials. “It is difficult for the pseudo manuifacturers to shift from Chinese companies to others and hence this noise is being heard,” he explained.
Three weeks back when the AiMed heard about complaints related to thermometers disappearing from shelves and acute shortage of raw materials they did a check and found that most of them were pseudo manufacturers.
Ray of hope for India
With the number of coronavirus cases rising, various countries are ready to purchase the material for prices as high as three times the actual cost. Major demand is for infrared thermometers which is coming from several countries. Tarun Arora, Director of Infinity Mediquip, says, “It is 3-4 times the earlier rate of D800-900 for infrared thermometers.”
Opportunity for ‘Make in India’
The coronavirus outbreak in China provides an opportunity for India to expand exports, said AiMeD coordinator Rajiv Nath. A meeting is being held in Delhi on Tuesday to ensure that India’s trade relations with other countries are given a boost and the country should be seen as second in the world in terms of manufacturing.-New Indian Express