Medical device imports surged a record 41% in FY22: report

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New Delhi: Medical device imports increased by a record 41% 63,200 crore in 2021-22 from 44,708 crore in 2020-21, according to Department of Commerce data analyzed by the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD).

India’s top five import sources of medical devices – China, the US, Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands – together make up one 37,519 crore or 68% of the total value of imports, analysis by AiMeD has shown.

The analysis further indicated that among the six main categories of medical devices imported, such as consumables, disposables, electronics and equipment, implants, IVD reagents and surgical instruments, growth was highest in the electronics and equipment category.

Imported from India Medical devices worth 40,649 crore falling under this category in 2021-22 against an import value 4,569 crores in 2016-17.

The import of surgical instruments increased 1,260 crore from 243 crore during this period.

Despite government efforts to slow imports from China, China has remained the top source of imports for India. Imports from China grew 48% YoY 13,538 crores in 2021-22.

“AiMeD also analyzed the top 50 medical device import items from China to identify the areas of greater dependency for India. A majority of imported medical devices from China (by value) fall under the “other items” subsections under several main categories, she finds. AiMeD asked the government. should consider moving from an 8-digit HS code to a 10-digit HS code, as practiced in the US and Europe, to get more detailed data for better analysis and decision-making,” said AiMed, a Umbrella organization of domestic manufacturers of medical devices.

The value of medical devices from China was almost equal to the combined value of imports from Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands. Imports of medical devices from the US also rose sharply by 48% 10,245 crore in 2021-22.

“NITI Aayog and the Department of Pharmaceuticals recognize that Indian manufacturers have a 12-15 percent disability factor in manufacturing medical devices in India. We call on the union government to neutralize this impediment to the reduction of medical device imports in India, as has been the case in the case of consumer electronics, including mobile phones, and even in the toy industry,” said Rajiv Nath on the increase in medical device imports , Forum coordinator, said AiMeD.

Currently, the tariff on Chinese imports mostly ranges from zero to 105%, but the majority of items fall in the 7.5% category, and one item is at 25%, it said.

“We, on behalf of the Indian medical device industry, call on the government to accelerate steps to end the 80 per cent import dependency that is being imposed on us and an ever-rising import bill of over Rs. 63,200 crores, accelerated steps to protect patients, stricter Quality and safety regulations, price controls to make medical devices and quality treatments accessible and affordable, and ethical indigenous manufacturing viable India’s health security is at great risk.

“This is a very alarming situation as the increase in imports from India has quintupled over a six year period Medical devices worth 12,866 crore in 2016-2017,” Nath said, adding that this was discouraging for local industry players as it had resulted in several small and medium-sized units closing stores of around 1,500 such units and many more are about to close.

The government must make policy decisions like those made for the mobile phone and consumer electronics industries to create a level playing field, if not a strategic advantage, for domestic manufacturers while protecting consumers, or India will become 80% dependent on imports remain, which poses a high health care security risk, Nath said.

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