Import of medical devices up 41% in FY22
Commerce Ministry data analyzed by the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) showed medical device imports grew by 41% to Rs 63,200 crore in 2021-22 from Rs 44,708 crore in 2020-21 .
Speaking on the increase in imports of medical devices, Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, AiMeD, said, “NITI Aayog and the Department of Pharmaceuticals recognize that Indian manufacturers have a disability factor of 12-15% in the manufacture of medical devices in India. We urge the government to counteract this handicap to reduce imports of medical devices into India, as was the case with consumer electronics including mobile phones and even in the toy industry.
Currently, duties on Chinese imports mostly range from zero to 10 percent, but most items are in the 7.5 percent category and one item is 25 percent.
AimeD has urged the government to expedite measures to end the 80% import dependency and an ever-growing import bill of over Rs 63,200 crore, expedite patient protection measures, strengthen quality and safety regulations, control prices to make medical devices and indigenously made quality treatment accessible and affordable and ethically viable.
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“It is a very alarming situation as the increase has increased fivefold over a period of six years, with India importing Rs 12,866 crore worth of medical devices in 2016-17,” Rajiv Nath said.
CHINA MAIN SOURCE OF IMPORTS FOR INDIA
Despite government efforts to slow imports from China, the neighboring country remained India’s main import source, with imports from China increasing by 48% from Rs 9,112 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 13,538 crore in 2021-22.
Imports of medical devices from the US also surged by 48% to Rs 10,245 crore in 2021-22 from Rs 6,919 crore in 2020-21.
The value of medical devices from China was almost the same as the combined value of imports from Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands in 2021-22.
THE GROWTH OF IMPORTS AND ITS IMPACT ON DOMESTIC UNITS
AimeD said the increase in medical device imports into India has hurt small and medium units.
With the government’s push to make India ‘Aatmanirbhar’ in medical device manufacturing, during the pandemic, several local units manufacturing masks, PPE kits, thermometers and gloves sprang up as demand was very high.
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AiMeD said that from 1,200 units the numbers had risen to 1,800 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Slowly, units began to close as imports from China continued to increase. Today, it is estimated that there are around 1,500 such units, with many more on the verge of closing.
For the beleaguered domestic industry, capacity utilization had fallen in the October-December 2021-22 quarter. From peak utilization levels of 100%, in November 2021, it was estimated that around 33%, or a third of India’s medical device manufacturing capacity, was idle. It’s even higher now, according to AiMeD, an umbrella organization for domestic medical device manufacturers.
AimeD’s analysis shows that India’s top five sources of medical device imports – China, the United States, Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands – together account for Rs 37,519 crore, i.e. 68% of the total value of imports.
AiMeD pointed out that among the six major categories of medical devices such as consumables, disposables, electronics and equipment, implants, IVD reagents and surgical instruments that are imported, growth has been highest in the “electronics and equipment” category.
India imported Rs 40,649 crore worth of medical devices under this category in 2021-22 against an import worth Rs 4,569 crore in 2016-17.
The import of surgical instruments increased from Rs 1,260 crore to Rs 243 crore during this period. Other product categories performed like this: IVD reagent (from Rs 361 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 6,564 crore in 2021-22), consumables (from Rs 5,249 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 8,488 crore in 2021-22), implants (from Rs 384 crore to Rs 3,155 crore) and disposables (from Rs 2,061 crore to Rs 3,084 crore).
AiMeD also analyzed the top 50 medical device import items from China to identify areas of greatest dependency for India. A large portion of medical devices imported from China (in terms of value) fall into “other items” subsections under various broad categories, he finds. AimeD has urged the government to consider moving from an 8-digit HS code to a 10-digit HS code, as the US and Europe are doing, to provide more granular data for better analysis and insight. better policy making.
“Government must make policy decisions as it has done for the mobile phone and consumer electronics industry to provide a level playing field, if not a strategic advantage, to domestic manufacturers, while protecting consumers or India will remain 80% dependent on imports which is a high health safety risk,” Rajiv Nath said.
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