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India producing medical devices at one-third world price

Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Tuesday said the country is among the top five nations in the world manufacturing life-saving high-risk medical devices but the cost of indigenous ones is just one-third or one-fourth of those manufactured by the four other countries. He underlined this as reflecting the ‘atmanirbhar’ vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to become self-reliant in medical devices and medical management.

The Minister of State (independent charge) for Science and Technology was addressing the faculty and students after inaugurating the combined devices block at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) here.

Technologies like the artificial heart valve, hydrocephalus shunt, oxygenator and drug-eluting intra-uterine device developed by the SCTIMST are being manufactured in countries like the USA, Japan, Brazil, and China, he said.

“We are now among the five countries of the world which have the richest resource of these devices. The other countries are the USA, Japan, Brazil, and China. But, our tools are more cost-effective, our cost is just one-third or one- fourth of the cost of those in other countries,” Singh said.

That is in tune with the socio-cultural scenario of the country and that realisation has led to the launch of the combination devices block as well, he explained.

The Minister pointed out that it was Modi who notified medical devices rules in 2017 in conformity with global harmonisation taskforce (GHTF) framework and conform to the best international practice.

The new rules seek to remove regulatory bottlenecks to make in India, facilitate ease of doing business while ensuring availability of better medical devices for patient care and safety.

The new combined devices block is an example of convergence of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and this must be institutionalised, he said. He further said this is the only institute which brings biomedical research and development, high-quality clinical care, public health studies and interventions as well as human resource development under a single institutional framework. Lavishing praise on the efforts of SCTIMST in the field of medical research and device manufacturing, he said the institute has assured that its various products like heart valve, oxygenators, blood bag, hydrocephalus shunt, orthopaedic and dental materials, among others, are available to Indian patients at an affordable price.

The Minister lauded the institute for its pivotal role of bridging its research with societal needs, especially looking at the needs of the under-privileged. Dwelling on the synergy concept and integrated approach of Modi, Jitendra Singh said most of the technologies developed at the SCTIMST are transferred to private commercial enterprises and have been thriving in the market for decades. Many projects for product development are fully funded by industrial establishments and both these are excellent examples of creating an environment for enhanced private participation in research and development, the Minister added. The research and development for ease of living can become successful, only if the private industry becomes an equal stakeholder and invests in the project from the beginning, he opined. He said this is also true for sustainable start-ups to have equal stake by both public and private sectors.

He cited as examples the technology development board of DST and Bharat Biotech to form a Rs 400-crore corpus fund with equal contribution by both to support startups in vaccine-manufacturing and other ventures in the field of medicine. The Minister pointed out that the DNA vaccine produced by the Department of Biotechnology was effectively used later by the private sector and this is the essence of an integrated approach.

New initiatives in the combination devices would definitely help the institute to take up a more significant role in supporting the Indian medical device industry for strengthening its indigenous capability, he said. Sanjay Bihari, director of SCTIMST, V K Saraswat, member, Health Niti Aayog, Shashi Tharoor, MP, and others attended the event. PTI

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