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Pharma industry to reach USD 55 bn in 3 years; medical tourism major growth driver: ASSOCHAM-IITTM study

Monday, February 20, 2017

Indian pharmaceuticals market is expected to touch US$ 55 billion by 2020 from the current level of US$ 36.7 billion in 2016 growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.92 per cent, according to ASSOCHAM-IITTM joint study.

Indian pharmaceuticals market increased at a CAGR of 17.46 per cent during 2005-16 with the market increasing from US$ 6 billion in 2005 to US$ 36.7 billion in 2016. By 2020, India is likely to be among the top three pharmaceutical markets by incremental growth and sixth largest market globally in absolute size, noted the study titled `Medical Value Travel (MVT),` jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and research firm Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM).

According to joint report, Indian Health Care is expected to rise at a rate of CAGR of 29% during 2015-20 to US $280 billion with rising income, greater health awareness, increased precedence of lifestyle diseases and improved access to insurance,

The year 2015 witnessed the growth of 140% of foreign tourist`s arrival on medical visa from the year 2013, where more than 50, 000 people visited India on medical visa. This number rose to approx 1,34,000 in 2015. In fact, the number of foreign tourist`s arrival on a medical attendant visa also doubled from 2013 to 2015, increasing from 42,000 odd in 2013 to more than 99,000 in 2015, adds the study.

The study reveals that in the first 6 months of 2016 alone, close to a lakh foreign tourists have arrived on a medical visa making it a very lucrative market. The top most countries availing medical visa were Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Republic of Korea and Nigeria.

The majority of the patients coming to India for treatment are from the Middle East, Africa, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka for its expertise in cardiac and orthopaedic procedures, in addition to other specialised areas like neuro-surgeries, cancer treatment and organ transplantation. India is also attracting medical tourists looking for the traditional system of medicine available in India, noted the study.

The ability to offer holistic medical services such as Unani, Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda, and Homeopathic treatments (AYUSH) is also a huge attraction.

There are less numbers of accredited hospitals in India. Thailand being a smaller nation has 55 JCI accredited medical facilities. Lack of enough accredited medical facilities decreases the supply potentials of India as a medical tourism hub. Though the cost of treatment in India is less but there is high cost of accommodation which creates a barrier for low income group patients. There is also lack of proper regulatory and review framework related to medical tourism giving way to many legal and ethical issues.

Many problems arise due to lack of synergy between various stakeholders. Stringent medical visa rules also create a barrier as it makes the process of entering in the country difficult. This issue is high on radar due to the influx of medical tourist from ISIS hit countries which creates huge security issue for India, highlighted the joint study.

The government of India has recognized the potential of medical tourism and has come up with supporting policies. The Indian Ministry of Tourism is actively promoting medical tourism through overseas road shows where market development assistance (MDA) is provided to medical and wellness tourism service providers to encourage overseas promotion. The government has introduced medical visa to govern medical tourism. In order to further expand the healthcare system and enhance its quality, the government also actively provides incentives and giving special approvals to foreign firms for direct investments.

India`s cost of production is significantly lower than that of the US and almost half of that of Europe. It gives a competitive edge to India over others. Growing number of medical facilities are realizing the importance of accreditation and certification leading many labs and hospitals taking up accreditation and certification. This could increase the number of accredited facilities in India.

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