Even as US President Donald Trump wants United States Trade Representative (USTR) to step pressure on the country's trade partners to provide pricing freedom for US based medical device companies, local industry lobby group Association of Indian Manufacturers of Medical Devices (AIMED) has urged India to reduce reliance on imported medical devices.
"India needs to encourage indigenous manufacturing of medical devices to reduce dependency and withstand monopolistic threats by US industry lobbying through the US government. Prime Minister Modi needs to convince President Trump of India's need for affordable healthcare", says Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, AIMED.
In a speech, on May 11, US President Donald Trump had unveiled the plans of the US administration to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for American people.
Though Trump's push for low-cost generics will intensify the already intense competition in the US generic drugs market, the move may see an increase in export volumes for Indian generic pharmaceutical companies. Margins are likely to come under pressure as the administration plans new tools to negotiate lower prices for more drugs.
His comments on how foreign governments' treat US pharmaceutical companies, though will have a bigger impact. "We demand fairness for American patients at home, we will also demand fairness overseas. When foreign governments extort unreasonably low prices from US drug makers, Americans have to pay more to subsidise the enormous cost of research and development," Trump had said.
Stating that it is time to end the global freeloading once and for all, he wants US Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer to make 'fixing injustice' a top priority with every trading partner.
India's recent decision to fix a price cap on cardiac stents had invited lot of criticism from US based medical technology players. Even the US government had expressed its displeasure over the move. President's statement indicates that the US is not willing to remain silent and will step up pressure on India to review its decision. "The US President is being obviously misinformed and misled by the US lobbyists. US has the highest healthcare costs in the world and US needs to study German, UK and Scandinavian healthcare models to drive down healthcare cost in US. Blaming it as a cost of cross subsidising other developing countries healthcare cost (is of no use)", says Rajiv Nath.
India's drug price watchdog National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has been looking at expanding the scope of price control on medical devices. It has been studying the profit patterns in the sector to see if there is scope for price reduction. In March, the agency had come out with a study that suggested that trade margins in needles and syringes can be anywhere between 200 percent to 1000 percent, there by highlighting the problem.