Catheters, stents, pacemakers, and other such medical devices may soon become increasingly expensive in India as the country’s government shows signs of increasing their basic custom duty by 5 per cent on all medical devices that are imported.
Currently, the customs duty on imported medical devices differs from 10 per cent to 5 per cent. The difference depends on the usage of the devices, which is broadly classified into three categories.
The duty for high end medical devices including CT scanners and MRI machines is lower than 5 per cent. These devices are used in hospitals and radiology labs. Other imported devices such as syringes and catheters have a 10 per cent customs duty. Stents and pacemakers also have a 5 per cent basic customs duty.
The proposal made by the government to increase duty is a move made to encourage manufacturing companies to by in sync with the “Make in India” mission initiated by the Indian President, Narendra Modi.
The industry, however, feels creating tariff barriers will not be successful in boosting indigenous manufacturing. Healthcare analysts say that it could only lead to a rise in price of medical devices, which already add to a major chunk of the healthcare costs for patients.
Himanshu Baid, managind director of Poly Medicure, said that most of these imported devices are currently not being manufactured in India. The increase in duty on these products will not create a manufacturing growth in the country. It could actually work against the government’s FDI policy.
Around 80 per cent of the medical devices used in India are imported. The Indian government recently allowed a 100 per cent foreign direct investment in the medical devices industry using automatic means.