’70 % of Treatment Decisions in India are Based on Lab Results’
From its modest beginning in 1979 as a marketing firm for a few imported diagnostic equipment, Transasia Biomedicals has today become a leading Indian diagnostic instruments’ manufacturer, exporter and marketing company. The company provides an entire range of solutions in the clinical diagnosis spectrum with a wide gamut of equipment for biochemistry, haematology, immunology, critical care, pipettes, coagulation, urine analysers and quality reagents. Suresh Vazirani, CMD, Transasia, talks to Sonal Shukla about the upcoming trends in Indian diagnostic market and the company’s future plans.
How much is the Transasia’s share in the Indian diagnostic segment?
The sale of diagnostics kits have been on rise in recent years in India with increasing per capita income, changing lifestyle and mass urbanisation. With only a couple of companies in the early 70s, the diagnostic sector has about 25 manufacturers today, besides over 30 players including MNCs who are doing diagnostic business in the country.
Diagnostic sector is divided into four major segments which are biochemistry, haematology, immunology and microbiology and Transasia is present in three. We are about 20 per cent of the whole diagnostic sector. We are a major player in haematology with 45 per cent market share, and in biochemistry segment with 25 per cent market share. We have plans to tap the microbiology segment in the future.
What are the strengths of Transasia?
Our strength has been customer service. Service support for Transasia equipment and the infrastructure that we have built to support this has helped to set benchmarks for the industry in terms of service expectations. When I started the business, the scenario was totally different. Healthcare had a great need of after sales service and engineering support. Since I was an engineer, many of them suggested that I should start a company with strong after sales service support. That has still remained our main strength. In Mumbai, our engineer reaches within two hours of the call for assistance. Besides, our prices are very reasonable as we manufacture our own products while most of our competitors are importing the machines.
How do you plan to tap upcoming trends in diagnostic market?
At 19 per cent, diagnostics is a second major contributor to the total bio pharma revenues. It is a Rs 1,000-crore-industry and the market is witnessing both rapid growth and increased competition. Like software, India’s biotech industry is also growing at over 35 per cent and more than half of the revenue comes from exports, similar to software. The first time entrepreneurs are rewriting the rules of the game and keeping the industry flag flying high.
The pathology market is currently 2.5 per cent of the overall healthcare delivery market. There are 40,000 independent path labs in the country and the industry is highly competitive and price-driven with kickbacks and business referral payments in the absence of a regulatory body. Around 70 per cent of treatment decisions in the country are based on lab results.
We are starting to make those technologies. Other trend is to have more accurate testing like PCR. Earlier, doing this test was way too expensive, but now due to scientific and electronic development it has become much more affordable.
We are into rapid tests like HIV, hepatitis, and TB which can be done on the spot. Rapid tests have tremendous potential for a developing country like India because it doesn’t need very expensive equipment, high technology, much after sales support, and they are very easy to use, so we see great potential for that.
You are the pioneer in initiating advanced diagnostic technology in India. How did you go about it? Give us an insight of your R&D focus.
Transasia recognises R&D as the prime driver of innovation and leadership and wants to be among the top ten diagnostic players in the world. Transasia’s young and enthusiastic R&D team of experts in software, mechanical engineering, electronics and embedded software and bio-chemistry has built an impressive track record of successful projects. Since the first photometer manufactured in 1993, we have successfully developed fully-automated clinical chemistry analysers with throughputs from 120 to 600 tests per hour and is now developing models of up to 1,000 tests per hour. The R&D policy focuses on delivering high quality, reliable product on time to every customer; with prompt responses to queries from both internal and external customers.
The company is reaping the benefits of this strategic decision and will emerge soon not only as a renowned supplier of products but also of new technologies across the globe. Our scientists have collaborated with many laboratories in India to know what is happening. Recently, we have signed an MoU with Atomic Energy Department to develop some new kits.
What expansion opportunities do you foresee in the markets like the US, Europe and Japan? What route you prefer to crack these respective markets?
The US, Europe and Japan are mature markets with established players. Transasia, however, has been able to make a dent even in those markets. We were the first Indian player to be present in Medica Exhibition in Germany and AACC in USA. Our major international business comes from these markets. We have duplicated our Indian advantage in international market. We are present in over 54 countries across the world. We want that in the IVD global map; the ‘Made in India’ label and Transasia should be No 1. We are already exporting to Europe, China, CIS countries, far East, Latin America, and Africa. We are also planning to make inroads in the US market by developing products that meet the stringent norms of the US FDA. We are in the process of buying a US company, which will give us a strong base. The US market is about 40 per cent of the world market. Even though very concentrated and big we cannot possibly ignore opportunities lying in US market. We have to be there.
In the US, we are targeting doctor’s clinics where a group of at least 10 to 15 doctors set up a group practice and have a lab. That is the segment we are looking at. In India, this concept is not so strong as yet whereas in US this is one fast growing area, much faster than the big hospitals. A lot of big hospitals in America are closing down because they are two expensive to run.
Can you brief us about Transasia’s strategic alliance with Japanese diagnostics major Sysmex Corporation?
Transasia is working closely with Sysmex and has been able to gain a market share of over 45 per cent for Sysmex’s Analysers in India. A Joint Venture is also in place to manufacture the reagents locally to enable cost reduction and become more competitive. This has helped in reducing the logistics constraints and time to service customer needs.
Any plans to come up with new products in diagnostic equipment in the near future?
Transasia has it own brands of XL 300 and XL 600 clinical chemistry analysers which aids in analysing substrates, enzymes, specific proteins, drug assays, DAU etc. We have XL-640 an Automated Random Access Clinical Chemistry System and Chemix (co-branded with Sysmex for global market). We are planning to launch future series based on the requirement and market demands.