Top export sector for India market

Did you know?

Though India has a reasonable domestic manufacture of medical electronics and consumables, it can benefit from foreign technology.

Medical electronics and consumables

(in US$ million)

Medical electronics and consumables 1995 1996 1997*
Total market size




Locally manufactured 55 66 80
Total exports 4 5 6
Total imports 96 109 125
Exchange rate: US$1 = Rs. 32.75 34.95 35.00
Source: Independent studies
*1997 figures are estimates

Promising sub-sectors

1997* market size (US$ mn)

Medical imaging equipment (x-ray, CT and MRI)


Cardiology equipment


Laboratory instruments and supplies


Cancer diagnostic and treatment equipment


Points to be noted:

  • Around 65 per cent of India's demand for medical electronic equipment and consumables is currently met with by imports.

  • An outstanding majority of the population receives free or very highly subsidised treatment in hospitals and clinics run by government and charity organisations.These hospitals are allowed to import medical equipment and consumables free of customs duty if they provide free treatment to at least 40 per cent of the patients registered with them and if the equipment they want to import is not manufactured locally. Medical research establishments run by the state are also allowed duty-free imports. Privately run hospitals are allowed duty-free imports of used equipment with minimum residual life of five years.

  • The federal government's outlay for health and family planning is expected to increase by 20 per cent annually for the next several years.In addition, each of India's 25 states has its own budget for medical facilities.

  • Health insurance is picking up in the cities and this means that more and more people will visit clinics and hospitals for minor problems which would have otherwise been treated by self-medication with medicines available over-the-counter (OTC) in pharmacies.

  • Patients and their relatives are becoming increasingly conscious of their rights as consumers in the medical treatment market. This will increasingly expose doctors to litigation in cases of incorrect diagnosis or negligence. Doctors will therefore seek more tests to be performed on patients before starting treatment, unlike in the past when most doctors used to proceed by their own judgement on a trial-and-error basis and would prove correct in a majority of cases. More tests mean greater demand for medical machinery, equipment and consumables.

  • Even though domestic industry manufactures many medical equipment and consumables (which they also export to other countries), both doctors and patients have a psychological bias in favour of imported products. This works to the benefit of exporters in other countries.

  • India has one of the best medical infrastructures in the developing world but capacity of hospitals is far less than demand. Scenes of patients being tended to in corridors of big hospitals are not rare. This will increase pressure for expansion of medical facilities with an obvious spin-off on the demand for medical equipment and consumables.

  • Major foreign and domestic players active in this market include Siemens, Eipro-GE, Philips, Inchem ATL, Network-Picker, Toshiba-STM and Toshniwal (in imaging equipment) and Hewlett Packard, Indchem, Larsen and Toubro, British Physical Laboratories (BPL), Hinditron, Toshbro and Torrent in cardiology equipment sector.