AIMED seeks inclusion of patient protection in election manifestos

The Indian medical device manufacturers have sought an urgent need for better patient protection, stronger regulation, price controls to make devices and quality treatment affordable and accessible in India


New Delhi: The general elections to the 17th Lok Sabha (lower house of Indian Parliament) are scheduled to be held in seven phases from 11 April to 19 May 2019. For the first time, these elections are expected to be fought on key issues that trouble the common man like healthcare and affordable access, education, jobs from the manufacturing sector and other issues.

While national political parties are yet to release their manifestos, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AIMED), the apex body representing Indian Medical Device Industry has put out a proposal for political parties for their election manifesto on health.

The proposal highlights demands for patients’ protection, stronger quality & Safety regulations, price controls to make devices and quality treatment accessible and affordable and indigenous manufacturing viable.

The key points of AIMED’s proposal are:

  • Need to Regulate all Medical Devices under a Patients’ Safety Medical Devices Law to protect patients

  • Need to protect Consumers from exploitatively high MRP in Medical Devices by rationalized price controls

  • Need to encourage employment and Make in India of Medical Devices and address 70-90% import dependency by a predictive nominal tariff protection policy to ensure a vibrant domestic industry & competitiveness and price stability driven by competing domestic players

  • Need to incentivize Quality in Healthcare Products in public healthcare procurements by preferential pricing for Q1 e.g ICMED (QCI’s Indian Certification for Medical Devices) instead of L1 to ensure patients access acceptable quality.

Mr Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator of AIMED, said “We are acutely aware that these are very specific and detailed demands for a Political Party’s Election Manifesto. We insist these are necessary as a part of a health-for-all National agenda, to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable for common masses and to place India among the Top 5 Medical Devices manufacturing hubs worldwide and end the 70-90% import dependence forced upon us and an ever-increasing import bill of over Rs 31, 000 crore Rs ! Pseudo Manufacturing and Unethical marketing is harming consumers and disallowing manufacturing to succeed in India by well-meaning investors.”

“Broader wishes like universal health care, free diagnostics, require a thriving indigenous medical device sector which is well regulated and produces affordable quality products,” explains Dr Jitendar Sharma, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of Andhra Med Tech Zone.

“Diluted and fragmented piece meal unpredictable regulation spread across multiple bodies has done more harm to the sector and the patients.” Sharma wants that to stop and a coherent and single regulatory body constituted with a predictable regulatory road map.

Last week, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in a public address in Chhatisgarh, mentioned his party’s commitment to enact a “Right to Healthcare” and make health a justiciable right, if they came to power.

The BJP has already put the Prime Minister’s Jan Arogya Yojana’s (PMJAY) Rs 5 lakh insurance cover for 40% poorest Indians, front and centre, as their commitment to delivering universal health coverage.

India’s public investment in health sector continues to be one of the lowest in the world, at less than 1.3% of the GDP. 70% of healthcare expenditure is met by private expenses by Indians. And catastrophic expenses in healthcare push 7% Indians into poverty every year. Indians incur 52% of the out-of-pocket-expenditure on drugs and 10% on diagnostics. “The PMJAY kicks in only after hospitalization and cannot be accessed by the middle class – what about them?” asked Mr Nath.