By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, March 12 | There may be mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the domestic Indian syringe and needles segment as nearly 200 crore pieces of manufacturing capacity is remaining idle owing to imports, unused stocks sourced by government, hospitals and retailers and rise in input costs, said industry officials.
They also said the central government should give the domestic industry a combo booster dose of curbing Chinese imports and increase the duties.
“Should Chinese syringes be used to combat the coronavirus that allegedly originated from that country,” an industry official question.
“The total Indian market size for syringes will be about 500 crore pieces of which the government supplies will be about 200 crore pieces and exports about 150 crore pieces. The remaining will be for domestic institutional (hospitals, clinics) and retail sales,” Vimal Khemka, General Secretary, All India Syringes and Needles Manufacturers Association (AISNMA) told IANS.
He is also a Director in the Rs 17 crore turnover Veekay Surgicals.
Queried whether the industry would see higher sales in the coming years as the Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be a permanent fixture like other vaccines Khemka said: “It has to be seen. Firstly, the vaccine makers have to come out with vaccines for children. Further the vaccine’s efficacy has to be seen. Different vaccines have different efficacy levels.”
Khemka said that developed countries use normal syringes for Covid-19 vaccination. Similarly, the Indian government should buy normal syringes from the domestic market restricting Chinese imports.
Presently the Indian government uses auto disable syringes for Covid-19 vaccine jabs.
“The syringe industry is down and it is a tough situation for the players with only a few are making money. M&A may happen in the industry if the price is right,” Khemka said.
“Different drugs need different dosages and so standardisation of syringes is not possible to bring down the costs. Pre-filled syringes (syringes filled with drugs) are costly and it is for the pharmaceutical companies to do that,” Rajiv Nath, President, AISNMA told IANS.
Adding further Nath said, the auto disable syringes are procured by the government in public healthcare delivery to assure safe injections avoiding reuse.
In the private healthcare sector, the use of auto disable syringes for vaccination is not mandatory and hospitals use the standard disposable syringes, he added.
Nath also the Managing Director of the over Rs 650 crore syringe major Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices Ltd said his company is not interested in acquisitions while concurring with Khemka’s views that many may exit if the price is right.
“We trust our own technology platform and would not buy out competition with baggage of lower technology/quality,” Nath said.
The AISNMA had written to the government to double the import duties to 15 per cent as they have to match the price of cheap subsidised Chinese syringes in the case of tenders there by making the supplies unremunerative, Nath said.
Khemka hopes the situation will turn better for the players in the coming days as hospitals have started functioning now and surgeries are happening and outpatient departments are also open.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)