NHSRC-UL’s National Symposium on patient safety in medical devices brings testing and regulatory standards to the forefront

BANGALORE, India, Feb.13, 2015 – India’s medical device industry has huge untapped potential and can be a potent force globally if regulated and pushed in the right direction, stated a report released by the National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC) at the National Symposium of Safety of Medical Devices, organised in association with UL (Underwriters Laboratories). The main focus of the symposium was to strengthen the cause for affordable and quality healthcare systems in India. The national symposium served as a platform to facilitate discussions to promote awareness on medical standards and medical devices safety in the healthcare sector.

The National Symposium witnessed the launch of two reports on setting up medical device testing laboratories for electrical and electronic medical devices as well as for biomaterials and medical implants. The reports developed by the National Health Systems Resource Centre, in technical collaboration with the WHO Country Office for India and with technical inputs from UL in India, SAMEER and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences & Technology, highlight the basic requirements, work flow, infrastructure and human resources required for establishing medical devices testing laboratories.

Commenting at the symposium, Mr.Ravi Capoor, joint secretary, Ministry of Commerce said “Medical devices have a huge potential in India. However, 70-75% of the market continues to be import based. To grow the industry and achieve the 25 billion USD target, we need to lay greater emphasis on developing industry standards and making regulatory amendments to the existing Drug and Cosmetics Act. Technology can be a great enabler to these efforts and we need to set up R&D incubation centers across the country that foster innovation and thereby help in designing and manufacturing devices locally”.

Speaking at the symposium, Mr. Suresh Sugavanam, vice president and managing director, UL South Asia, said, “The government approving 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the medical devices sector is a positive step towards developing the overall healthcare infrastructure, thereby reducing our dependency on imports. The expected inflow of investment should target research, testing and infrastructure strengthening to promote domestic manufacturing. UL has made significant investments in terms of resources and laboratories to support the industry. The current landscape is highly fragmented and calls for a restructuring of regulatory framework to boost the industry. With advanced technological innovations and a burgeoning market for medical devices, India offers great potential for growth in the domestic as well as in the global arena. This report reinforces the need for bringing in a systematic and harmonized approach towards testing for safety and efficacy of medical devices.”

The medical devices industry in India needs to be governed by new laws which will facilitate the creation of a separate identity for the sector. As a first step, the ministry is trying to establish a one-stop shop to address all kinds of grievances in health sciences. To ensure the success of the Make in India campaign, quality enhancement is crucial along with the setting up of regulatory standards. Through this symposium, I look forward to more constructive deliberation and resolution on the issue”, added Mr. K.L. Sharma, joint secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Access to safe, good quality and effective medical devices is an important component of health services. With the increasing commitment of the government towards achieving health for the people, proportionate effort is required towards developing systems such as testing laboratories to support the medical devices sector. Only with comprehensive and collaborative effort can the nation progress towards self-dependency and bring cost-effective and safe medical technologies within the reach of masses,” said Dr. Sanjiv Kumar, executive director, NHSRC.

Medical devices manufacturing is a $350 billion global industry, with India accounting for just over $5 billion. With a population of 1 billion, ensuring that citizens of the country have access to affordable, quality healthcare remains a challenge. Over the last few years, Indian healthcare has seen considerable advancements and it is time medical devices received due recognition in the regulatory system.

The symposium was attended by a diverse set of stakeholders from the Ministry of Health, medical devices industry, regulators, and practicing professionals from the regulatory compliance, organizational quality and business performance industries who debated and deliberated on key issues facing the industry like the importance of patient and user safety in medical technology, the role of third-party testing and notified bodies towards the growth of the MedTech industry, general requirements for basic safety and essential performance of medical electrical equipment and the way forward to building a best-in-class MedTech Industry in India.

About UL:

UL is a premier global independent safety science company that has championed progress for 120 years. Its more than 10,000 professionals are guided by the UL mission to promote safe working and living environments for all people. UL uses research and standards to continually advance and meet ever-evolving safety needs. We partner with businesses, manufacturers, trade associations and international regulatory authorities to bring solutions to a more complex global supply chain. For more information about our certification, testing, inspection, advisory and education services, visit http://www.UL.com

About NHSRC:

NHSRC has been set up under the National Health Mission (NHM) of Government of India to serve as an apex body for technical assistance. Established in 2007, the National Health Systems Resource Centre’s mandate is to assist in policy and strategy development in the provision and mobilisation of technical assistance to the states and in capacity building. The goal of this institution is to improve health outcomes by facilitating governance reform, health systems innovations and improved information sharing among all stake holders at the national, state, district and sub-district levels through specific capacity development and convergence models. The Healthcare Technology & Innovations division of NHSRC works in areas of formulating technical specifications for medical devices, formulating models for biomedical equipment life cycle management and maintenance, identification and uptake of innovations, conducting health technology assessments and contributes to technical components of healthcare technology systems development and its interface with the policy.