Made-in-India medical devices

4 Sep

dinesh_puri_clip_image002Bangalore-based MediVed is further proof that there is activity around medical devices in Indian companies. MediVed is just three years old and is currently focused on pacemakers and ICDs. Its first products are just rolling out of its factory in Bangalore, so I suppose its early to judge how they will fare. But it appears to have got the ingredients in place. One is the core technology which it acquired from a company in South America called CCC founded by the man who performed the first “effective” pacemaker implant in the world, according to MediVed’s website. Second is the capital – it’s got an investment plan of Rs 75 crore, mostly in manufacturing, and it is on target to meeting it. Dinesh Puri, its founder says the company also has a minority partner in the Manipal hospitals group. Third is the marketing – it’s hired from places like Medtronic. The question is now of execution.

What’s exciting is Puri’s ambition to be world-class. This is something that we have seen a lot of in the pharmaceutical industry but not much of in medical devices. I am not quite sure why though one reason could be the lack of effective regulation in India. What does not cease to shock is the fact that India has had no medical devices regulation until recently. Even now, devices have been summarily lumped under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act which was not really written with them in mind.  As a result, bonafide operators compete with barnyard manufacturers.  Multinationals dominate.

Companies like MediVed would like to challenge that. It’s focus is going to be primarily therapeutic devices like pacemakers though it also wants to branch out into advanced patient diagnostics. The timing is right because the healthcare market is beginning to mature. Also, access and affordability are growing.  Puri believes that it is not just cost that will set it apart but its willingness to work with doctors to tailor devices for the Indian customer.

There will be challenges. One, of course is breaking the stronghold of MNCs who now see emerging markets like India with new eyes. The second is producing quality products consistently. Third is viability. It will have to achieve a clever balance between in-house research -which takes years – and  technology transfer from partners like CCC which no doubt comes at a substantial cost.

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