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BD Looking For New Growth Avenues In Emerging Markets, And India
  • Edward J. Ludwig , chairman and CEO , Becton, Dickinson and Company

The company, having established its plant in 1995 in India is looking for new growth avenues in emerging markets, and India. Its first office in the country was set up in 1995. BD’s India revenues, which topped $100 million in the past year, come from selling syringes, diagnostic kits, lab equipment and related gear used in healthcare. As growth prospects get bleaker at home, the company is looking for new growth avenues in emerging markets, and India, with its Rs. 5,750 Crore medical technology market looks attractive. Now the $7.1-billion giant wants to ramp up its development and manufacturing operations in India — it is shifting production from Sweden to India.

After the establishment in 1995, the Company was relatively less successful in the initial years. As per Mr. Ludwig, while the need for safe injection, safe blood collection and evidence-based therapy are universal, the way these are delivered in India — through a combination of external forces such as NGOs, a federal policy level and a state policy level —is unique. The Company had initially one basic product - a two-piece syringe that was successful in southern parts of Europe. They moved manufacturing from Spain to India and started selling it here. The initial problems were because of India being a three-piece market.

Another problem was because of imports of a lot of expensive equipment by the Company on which they paid duties on.

The Company is now developing products that are lower priced, with very high quality, and easier to use. BD is not looking forward to any research and development in India but agrees that the situation may change in the next five years. The plant in India is having a spare capacity, so further expansion of the plant, by moving manufacturing lines from Sweden to India is planned. Even still the company is not having any larger plans to make India a manufacturing hub, though after a period of 10 years the company may call India a hub for certain products.

The company has no determined pricing strategy in India, as they find India a very competitive place. It just appropriately structures the cost to get valuable returns.

Developing of indigenous devices at an affordable cost by Indian companies is like a threat but more an opportunity for the company. The company has always been partnering with small entrepreneurs and licensing. BD wants to offer global standards.

As per the CEO, most innovations come from smaller companies. So partnering with them or at some point, for productions and sales, and making acquisitions is what the company’s plans.

On the issue of “the role of mobile and rapid diagnostic tools in improving the quality of care”, Mr. Ludwig said that, “Rapid diagnostics play a key role and are applied successfully in a number of settings, but in India this application is still not well applied. The only rapid test in India today is for pregnancy, although there are some tests for flu. There are still no adequate tests for diseases such as TB yet. Technology is struggling to keep up with the need.”

As per the CEO‘s views, about the Importance of Indian market, he said that, “The absolute size is not great. We are under $100 million revenues, but going forward, emerging markets will gain more importance, mainly India and China. Until two or three years ago, India was part of what we called Asia Pacific. Today, it reports directly to the head of international operations. We think of India as a region all by itself. India has the same status in our company as Europe. Our Indian business is growing at 20 per cent a year. In many parts of the world, including the US, we are holding our expenses flat because of economic realities. But in India, we are adding 100 people a year. We have a team of 450 people in India — twice the number of people we had three years ago. We are putting resources where we think the greatest opportunities are.”

(Abstracted from Interview as published in “Business World” of April 6, 2010)

Researchers Make Artificial Blood Vessels From Jatropha Bhavnagar’s CSMCRI Develops Biodegradable Polymer

ARTIFICIAL blood vessels from jatropha? After bio-diesel, this humble tropical weed could now help Indian researchers to indigenously develop blood vessels.

A biodegradable polymer recently developed from IIT-Madras to work towards a project in this direction. The IITians are not alone. A thiruvananthapuram-based medical institute Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST) and a Belgium-based multi-national company has also evinced interest in the polymer developed by a Gujarat-based national research institute.

The central salt marine Chemicals and Research Institute (CSMCRI), Located in Bhavnagar district of the state, has hit upon a process by which biodegradable polymers can be developed at almost zero-cost using one of the byproducts of Jatropha-a drought-resistant perennial plant that grows even in sandy and saline conditions.

“The technique to create bio-degradable plastic from the recently discovered polymers may not remain limited to making bio-degradable polythene bags. The Indian Institute of Technology –Madras has now evinced interest in collaborating with us in developing artificial blood vessels,” said Pushpito K Ghosh, director of the institute, which till now, has been offering its expertise to a number of Indian and foreign automotive manufactures like DaimlerChrysler, General Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra to develop efficient vehicles that run on bio-diesel sourced from jatropha.

The institute has been doing pioneering work in developing bio-diesel from jatropha. The scientists, however, continued to experiment with one of the byproducts, crude glycerol, and discovered this biodegradable polymer which is believed to have multiple uses un the field of medicine including the development of artificial blood vessels. Such artificial blood vessels. Such artificial blood vessels generally comprises of a woven, braided or knitted fabric structure. They are tubes made from synthetic (chemically produced) materials to restore blood circulation.

“The polymer could be used in spinning thin hollow fibers which could act as a substitute for blood vessels,” Mr Ghosh opined adding that the polymer was a “relatively inert material” and is biodegradable when left in soil. “The long-term degradation of this material is a matter of careful study,” he remarked.

A leading cardiac surgeon in Ahmedabad, Dr Apoorva Kanhere says that any material that is being developed as an artificial blood vessel need to be inert and supple. “It should not be thrombogenic (meaning it should not aid the clotting of blood) and it should also be able to withstand the blood pressure,” he said. Synthetic grafts in humans are often required in various vascular bypass surgeries. Such surgery is done to open blocked arteries in one part of the body by using a vessel from else where in the body. However, up to 40% of patients (especially those who are diabetic) don’t have a vessel suitable for the procedure. In such cases, surgeons use synthetic grafts or artificial blood vessels.

While IITans are looking to develop artificial blood vessels, a Kerala based institute is looking at possibilities to develop nano particulate systems which could be used in developing medical instruments for targeted delivery of drugs. Similarly, a Belgium-based firm is looking to jointly collaborate with CSMCRI to commercially develop the bio-polymer on a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) basis.

“We have sent a few grams of the polymer to both the institute (IIT – Madras and SCTIMST) for preliminary tests. The SCTIMST plans to develop nano particulate systems for diverse applications like making instruments that can be used for controlled or targeted delivery of drugs,” Mr Ghosh said. International interest in the project is also palpable. A Belgium – based MNC has also expressed interest in commercially developing this biodegradable polymer.” If negotiation with this firm can be forged. This will help the discovery to be taken to the second phase which will involve scaling up the production of the polymers from a few grams to kilogram,’ Mr Ghosh said adding that the third phase of the project at CSMCRI will involve scaling up the production to the tonne-mark. The success of the polymer has also attracted the country’s Department of Science and Technology which has floated a proposal to fund 70% of the project cost, provided the institute has an industry partner who can fund the remaining 30% of the cost.

(Ref: The Economic Times dated April 12 , 2010)

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