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The following news briefs were reported by Plastics News correspondent Satnam Singh from Medtec India, held Oct. 17-18 in New Delhi.

Indian study shows surge in health care

The medical plastics market in India is opening up and global players are exploring.

Many firms are looking at the India market due to its sheer size. The Indian health-care sector is recording positive trends year-on-year, but its domestic medical-device manufacturing base can not keep up with demand — therefore, the Indian medical-device industry is largely dependent on imports. Global players are studying the market potential, but few of them have entered yet.

A study from India’s health ministry estimates the global plastics market at 386 billion pounds a year, yet plastics’ market share in the health-care sector is merely 1 percent of that. Commodity plastics contribute 74 percent.

The Indian health-care sector, estimated at $38 billion, is expected to reach $77 billion by 2013. In the next 15 years, demand is likely to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15 percent.

The health-care industry accounted for 5.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2006. Expenditures on private health care surged by 227 percent to $33.6 billion in 2010. The share of private expenditures, as a percentage of the total, rose to 80 percent, from 60 percent. Health-care spending in India was expected to contribute 8 percent of GDP and employ about 9 million people in 2012.

Mikron focuses on emerging Asia biz

Biel, Switzerland-based Mikron Group, with plants in Switzerland, Germany, the U.S., Singapore and China, is shifting its focus to two emerging Asian markets.

“Earlier, we were focusing more on the European markets, but now focus is on India and China, as both are growing markets,” said Mikron Automation regional sales manager Harald Herrmann. “Potential is there in India, but the degree of automation is low.”

Mikron makes high-precision assembly and testing equipment and is targeting India’s medical and automotive electronics sectors.

“We have already sold two lines in the India market,” Harald said.

SMC India grows in medical devices

SMC Ltd., a Somerset, Wis.-based medical-device maker, continues to see opportunities for growth in India. The company set up a manufacturing facility there in 2011: SMC Medical Manufacturing Pvt. Ltd. in Bangalore.

“We are planning to manufacture plastic medical devices for cardiovascular, respiratory and orthopedic systems in India and we have started producing a couple of devices for cardiovascular systems in our Bangalore plant,” said B. Balakrishna Menon.

Balakrishna said the Indian medical-device market is largely based on imports.

“Around 85 percent of medical devices are still imported and our presence will change the dynamics, as our Bangalore plant will supply directly to OEMs,” Balakrishna said.

SMC also plans to serve the U.S. and Europe from the Bangalore plant.

The site’s capabilities include device and tool design, prototyping, toolmaking, molding, subassemblies and finished devices.

FLG checks prospects in dialysis equipment

FLG Automation AG of Karben, Germany is exploring the Indian medical market for assembly lines for dialysis and filter technology.

“We have not sold any equipment to India as yet; we are studying the market,” said Thomas Simon, sales manager for medical technology.

The company is making dialyzer assembly lines at its plant in Karben. One assembly line can make 2 million to 4 million units annually. FLG also makes equipment that manufactures inhaler caps and devices.

FLG has sold a line in China and appointed Uniway Asia Ltd. of Hong Kong as its representative. The line cost between $7.7 million and $10 million, he said.

Some firms report slow-moving market

Some companies at Medtec said it’s too soon to act on India’s vast potential in medical devices.

A regional sales manager for quick-disconnect maker Colder Products Co. of St. Paul, Minn., said the market potential is growing, but at a slow pace.

“The Indian medical-device market is growing slowly and is in a nascent stage, not comparable to China,” said Pawan Urs M. “The high-tech medical devices are largely imported in India.”

Colder has a plant in China and a sales office in Bangalore, India.

Joe Lui, a marketing consultant for Hong Kong-based Zeus Industrial Products Inc., agreed that it is too early for some firms to establish manufacturing in India. Zeus, which supplies fluoropolymer medical tubing, is beginning through distribution channels.

“We still have a very limited client base, therefore, we have a distributor in India to take care of the market,” he said. Zeus has U.S. headquarters in Orangeburg, S.C.

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