‘Manufacturing India-specific medical devices will up cost to patient’

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New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) Manufacturing an India-specific line of medical devices and equipment will increase the financial burden on patients and hamper the government’s vision of affordable, assessable healthcare for all, experts have warned.

According to the experts, for an India-specific production of medical devices, mandating pre-printing as per the country-specific requirements and restrictions on their shelf life, manufacturing date over and above globally established representations is needed.

“However, this will significantly increase the cost of the device, in turn cost to patient and most importantly will also lead to issues of availability of the products in Indian market, impacting the healthcare delivery in the country,” Pavan Choudary, Director General of Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI), said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Government’s key policy regulations such as the five-year cap on shelf life of medical devices, the implementation of Unique Device Identifier (UDI) for medical devices in 2017, increase in the import duties on medical devices and equipments and GST on medical devices are likely to do irreparable damages and will ultimately create repercussions for patients, experts noted.

As per Sanjay Bhutani, Managing Director at Bausch & Lomb – India and SAARC, the government while fixing GST rates, should ensure lower rates for medical devices as this would help to keep the overall healthcare costs low.

“As per economic analysis there is a significant private spending on healthcare and any increase in cascading effect of high GST would result making this dearer to the masses. It is recommended that this sector should be accorded status of essential goods and taxed if not zero per cent, then a maximum of five per cent,” added Bhutani.

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