India may be considered the pharmacy of the world in terms of drug production, but it imports nearly 80% of its medical devices. Barriers to entry being typically lower than other countries and this makes India a huge market for foreign product sales. Now, there are calls for India to begin creating home grown products.
India has the capacity for production on a colossal scale, with some companies taking advantage of this and altering their focus towards this window of opportunity in the market. Recently, in an interview with EThealthworld, Ganesh Sabat – CEO of Sahajanand Medical Technologies (SMT) – outlined his shift from diamond cutting to the production of stents for angioplasties.
The company originally manufactured lasers and other machinery capable of cutting diamonds. As stents require a laser source to be precisely cut, this can be seen as a natural transition, allowing for another wing of development. The company now sells stents in more than 60 countries with over 500,000 implantations worldwide.
This is not to say that the production of stents is a new development in India. More than 10 other companies manufacture and sell stents globally. However, SMT is the first of them to sell their product nationally as well as internationally.
The sale of domestically produced stents is of vital importance to India. In recent months, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) called for a price limit to be placed on both bare metal stents and drug eluting stents. This followed their proposed addition to the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM). Due to the high price of imported stents, this would reduce profit margins – sparking protest from industry lobbyists. The domestic production of stents could potentially be a compromise for both sides of the debate.
India has also had recent developments in the research of more efficient stents. Dr. Ashok Seth – chairman of the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute of New Delhi – recently unveiled a fully dissolvable thin strut stent. At a press conference where he presented his results and products, Dr. Seth said
“This is a big day for India and the ‘Make in India’ programme. It also reveals to the world that our Indian device industry has the ability to be innovative, creative and support high quality research. The innovative design of the MeRes100 scaffold developed in India addresses some of the limitations of currently available Bio Resorbable Stents [dissolvable stents] and may have higher success and lower complication rates in the long term.”
This new bioresorbable stent is also cheaper than those currently available in India. This type of home grown development may be the breath of fresh life that could exploit an area of the market that would benefit both the Indian economy as well as potentially its citizens, allowing for cheaper medical procedures by utilising Indian medical products instead of higher cost imports.