Device Makers Call For Trade Action Against India
American medical device companies
have written to the US government asking that it suspend or partly or fully
withdraw India's benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) "in
view of its failure to provide equitable and reasonable access to its market for
medical devices". GSP allows developing countries duty-free access to the US for
The companies cited recently
imposed price controls on stents and knee implants as examples of discrimination
against US device companies.
He representation to the United
States Trade Representative (USTR) was made by Advamed (Advanced Medical
Technology Association), a trade association representing nearly 350 medical
technology companies including the biggest stent manufacturers, Abbott, Boston
Scientific and Medtronic.
Advamed's representation to USTR
comes while the annual GSP product and country practices review process in
underway. Under GSP, 3,500 product lines are eligible for the benefits of
duty-free access to US markets. These products include engineering goods such as
mechanical and electrical machinery and equipment, tools, agricultural
implements, organic and inorganic chemicals, plastic and copper.
Advamed claimed that NPPA's price
cap of stents "disproportionately harmed imported stents".
Referring to the price control of
knee implants following stent price caps, the association expressed apprehension
that price control could extend to other medical devices. AdvaMed stated that it
recently learned that NPPA has already calculated ceiling prices for a number of
other medical devices and was just waiting for the prime minister's order. "If
price controls extend to all US exports of medical devices, except capital
equipment and in vitro diagnostics (because neither category has ever been
mention as candidates for price controls), over $700 million of US exports could
be adversely affected," it added.
Interestingly, Advamed claimed
that the order capping knee implant prices came "despite repeated assurance by
GOI officials that they would not expand price controls beyond stents".
The National Pharmaceutical
Pricing Authority had capped stent and knee implant prices after studies by it
revealed huge trade margins being used to induce hospitals and doctors to use
these devices at exorbitant prices to patients.
Avamed feared that other
countries might attempt similar price controls. "Indonesia, Bangladesh and
Pakistan are reportedly considering India-type price controls. Even more
troubling, China recently published a national pricing policy, in which it
explicitly required manufactures to report prices in India," it stated.
The Association of Indian Medical
Device Industry (AIMED)
countered Advamed's claims by
pointing out that the US adopted policies to favour its own companies. "The US
has technical barriers to trade under USFDA, while these are near non-existent
in India for US device companies. Indian manufacturers are barred from selling
to the US government-funded health programmes and defence as India is not listed
under the US Trade Agreement Act. We are also discriminated against as the US
has a 'Buy American' policy. No such government support exists in India for
domestic manufacturers. These lobbying forces only care about access to Indian
markets. Most of them just import. Hardly any of them manufacture in India,"
said Rajiv Nath of AIMED. He added that Advamed's representation showed the true
nature of the foreign device companies, who were members of the Confederation of
Indian Industries (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry
(FICCI) but were hardly interested in the welfare of India or its industry.
(Ref : Times of India dated Oct
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