Medical Plastic Data Service Magazine



Our 28th Year of Publication
Page  1 of 4


Cover Story

How Can India Become A Global Medical Device Manufacturing Hub

C. Padmakumar - Director
Kerala Lifesciences Industries Parks Private Limited & former Chairman and Managing Director,
Terumo Penpol

India Can Be A Global Medical Device Manufacturing And Research Hub. Farfetched idea ? Or doable ? If it is doable, what will it take to get there?

This article will look at these questions and propose answers based on the evidence of the global medical device industry and the Indian medical device industry in particular.

Let us start with a look at the history of the medical device industry and see what lessons we can learn. The medical device industry is heavily dominated by US companies(11 of the top 20 global companies) followed by European(7/20) and Japanese companies(2/20).US companies have been at the forefront of the growth of the global industry as they spread their wings from their lucrative domestic market to all corners of the globe. The US medical device industry has led by focusing on innovation.

The Indian medical device industry is still a small one although it has grown substantially from very small and humble beginnings. Although it accounts for a fraction of the global industry, there has been a significant expansion of human resources, research capabilities and labs, and manufacturing facilities of international standards over the past 35 years. Indian companies are beginning to make forays into the global market and have penetrated even the most advanced markets such as the US and Europe apart from selling products to markets in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

A study of the medical device industry by Michael Porter and colleagues identified the role of medical device clusters in the development of the industry. The key factors necessary for the growth of a medical device cluster are:

1) A large teaching hospital
2) At least one large medical device company
3) Engineering colleges
4) A university
5) Availability of multidisciplinary talent
6) Collaborative research

It will be instructive to look at the case of a medical device cluster in the making in the city of Trivandrum. Let us see how Trivandrum stacks up against Porterís criteria for a successful cluster.

  1. A large teaching hospital: Trivandrum has the Trivandrum Medical College Hospital, one of the largest and oldest medical teaching institutions in the country. The Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous super specialty hospital and research institute is also located here. So is the Regional Cancer Centre, one of the top ranked cancer hospitals in India.

  2. At least one large medical device company: Terumo Penpol Private Limited, HLL Lifecare Limited have their headquarters in Trivandrum and have large manufacturing plants and R&D centres in the city. TTK Healthcare Limited has a manufacturing facility for heart valves in Trivandrum.

  3. Engineering colleges: there are several private engineering colleges and the prestigious College of Engineering (CET), Trivandrum run by the Government. The Government Engineering College, Barton Hill, is also well regarded.

  4. A university: The Kerala University is located in Trivandrum.

  5. Availability of multidisciplinary talent: Kerala is an education hub with the highest literacy rate in India. All the required talent for the medical device industry is available thanks to the range of specialised educational institutions which offer courses and degrees and post graduate degrees in biology, microbiology, biomedical engineering, chemistry and its various subdisciplines, biotechnology and IT.

  6. Collaborative research: the state of Kerala boasts of a number of highly specialised research institutions and many of the key ones are located in Trivandrum. SCTIMST, the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, NIIST (formerly the Regional Research Laboratory), Terumo Penpol and HLL Lifecare are some of the leading research centres in the city. The prestigious Institute of Advanced Virology is being set up by the Government of Kerala at the Bio 360 Life Sciences Park, Trivandrum.

I took the example of Trivandrum to illustrate the point about the need to develop clusters and because most people in India will not connect a city like Trivandrum with a medical device cluster. The US has 20 clusters which make it the medical device powerhouse of the world. India has medical device industries clustered in Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat, Agra, Bangalore and Pune. The country needs to develop each cluster taking cues from Michael Porterís research and implementing a holistic approach to cluster development.

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