Govt may bring new law on medical devices: Ananth Kumar
New Delhi : The government is expected to bring in a new law to promote and regulate medical devices industry as well as rationalise duty structure on imported equipment so as to provide affordable healthcare to people.
Addressing a conference on medical technology, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar also assured the industry that he would take up the issue of ban on imports of refurbished medical devices with the ministries of finance, environment and health.
"There is a proposal from the industry to come out with the Medical Devices and Technology (Promotion and Regulation) Act. I will hold discussion with Health Minister," he said at the conference.
With inputs from the industry, the bill can be introduced in Parliament as early as the Winter Session, he said.
Stating that medical devices is a sunrise industry, the minister said the government intends to promote this important sector and "whatever legislative framework that is required on this issue can be considered".
India can develop as a medical devices hub globally and become an example of 'Make in India' campaign. India is already offering software solutions for manufacturing of medical devices globally and the country has the potential to become a full-range solutions provided if it starts manufacturing hardware as well, he added.
On the ban of imported refurbished medical devices, Kumar said their utility in second tier and third tier medical facilities is an important issue and he would lead a delegation of the industry to discuss the matter with the finance minister in the next 15 days in order "bring the matter to a logical conclusion".
On demands for higher duties on import finished equipments to boost domestic production, Kumar said: "Already there has been gradual increase in the last two years. It is to the tune of 11-12 per cent.
"Import duties on raw material has been reduced. Whatever tariff incentives are required, there will be a meeting of myself with Health Minister and Finance Minister."
Kumar said industry should suggest a "considered" tariff structure on imported medical devices and "I am ready to take up the issue with the Finance Minister".
Stating that affordability for poor patients of the country is a prime concern, he said the government will take steps to promote manufacturing of these devices in India so that the cost can be brought down.
On taxation on medical devices, Kumar said it will come down by 12 per cent when GST is implemented. Domestic production of the sector has increased by Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 12,000 crore in the last two and half years.
Kumar asked the medical devices industry to not treat it as a business but consider it as "providing holistic healthcare to 1.25 billion people". He expressed concern over the low usage of drugs in the population below poverty line.
Kumar also reiterated the demand for a separate ministry for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
CII Medical Technology Division Chairman Himanshu Baid demanded that ban on refurbished equipments should be removed to bring down the healthcare cost in tier II and III cities.
"The manufacturers are giving extended warranty. So there should not be any ban," Baid, who is MD of Polymedicure Ltd, added.