December 2007

INDIA

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First health institute in Nagaland inaugurated
The first health institute to be set up in the North-eastern state of India, Christian Institute of Health Sciences & Research (CISHR) is a collaboration between the Christian Medical College, Vellore and the Emmanuel Hospital Association, in Nagaland. The hospital it is  hoped, would soon be upgraded to a 300-bedded one in the near future making it eligible for the status of a medical college.

Governor, K. Sankaranarayanan congratulated the government and the people at the inaugural and said the institution would provide both opportunities and challenges. He also called upon the institute to promote community health care, rural hygiene and educate people in order to prevent the menace of HIV/ AIDS in the state.

The project for a 500-bedded referral hospital was sanctioned by the government of India in 1985, for which the work commenced in 1989; the project could not be completed because of various reasons, including cost escalation.

However now the people of Nagaland can look forward to various other up-coming projects including a nursing college, a medical college and a school for the children in  future.

MedRC provides e-Learning opportunities in health sciences
An e-Learning program for health science graduate and post graduate aspirants has been launched at the Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences Digital Library at Vijayawada.

NTRUHS provides various courses in Health Sciences to more than 60,000 students through its 300 affiliated colleges. The Medical Education Research Centre for Education technologies (MEdRC EduTech) is converting the entire MBBS curriculum (as prescribed by the MCI) into a series of over 7500 multimedia enhanced digital lectures. The lectures are delivered by Professors who are invited from various medical colleges across India, captured on video and subsequently enhanced by a team of doctors and multimedia professionals by adding multimedia elements in the form of slides, graphics, illustrations, 2D and 3D animation, etc.

In addition MEdRC is developing e-Learning courses for Pharmacy, Dental, Nursing, Paramedical, Hospital Staff Training, and for Village Health Workers in various Indian languages. MEdRC also captures and delivers modules for Continuing Medical Education through tie ups with various medical teaching organizations.   

Needle-free insulin in India soon
India, predicted to become the diabetes capital of the world, is home to around 40 million diabetic patients and the number is growing significantly every year.

Biotechnology company Shreya Lifesciences has entered into an in-licensing agreement with US-based Generex Biotechnology Corp to market Oral-lyn, the country's first needle-free insulin. The new version is delivered into the mouth using Generex's proprietary device branded RapidMist. It has been emphasised that Oral-lyn is not a new drug, but only a new delivery form.

Generex Biotechnology recently got the government's approval to import and register the drug in India. Since insulin is a drug under government price control, the company, it is said would seek a price approval from the national pharmaceutical pricing authority (NPPA). Imported drugs are given up to 35% margin to cover post manufacturing expenses, while locally made ones get 100%. Shreya Lifesciences is expected to launch the drug in a couple of months after meeting regulatory requirements. The price of the drug is expected to be much higher compared to the injectable version. The market size of insulin in the country, now available in the form of injectables and cartridges, is around INR 300 crore. Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, Wockhardt, Biocon and Shreya Lifesciences dominate the market. 

Cisco to network with hospitals for healthcare solutions
Cisco Systems, the networking multinational, is reportedly in talks with companies such as Reliance, Apollo Hospitals and Wockhardt to roll out their healthcare networking solutions in the form of Medical Grade Networks (MGN) to these hospital chains.

Cisco's Internet Business Solution Group, a global consul-tancy team inside the company had started its India operations about six months back, and aims to provide customised solutions to such hospitals, that are already on the path to major expansion spree planning to expand the number of speciality and super-speciality hospitals three-to five fold in the coming years. This would mean that the Indian hospital industry is in for a major consolidation, which is good news for companies such as Cisco.

Through an MGN, doctors and specialists can keep track of their patients on their wireless PDA. Nurses can keep an eye on instruments connected to patients and networks, and insurance companies can track payments. The technology can also enable patients remotely contact their hospitals and send test reports or samples. However, cost remains an issue, which would mean the technology, when rolled out, would be available only in cities and large hospitals.

According to Cisco's internal estimates India's healthcare delivery market is worth USD 55 billion, and is currently just around 5 per cent of India's GDP, far behind the spend in developed economies. A further reason for the interest in MGNs is the increase in patients coming into India for medical tourism.

Cellworks Group Inc. forays into India through R&D centre in Bangalore
Cellworks Group Inc, a California based company, has set up its R&D centre in Bangalore, India. Cellworks Research India Limited (CRIL), the R&D centre, would develop and provide technology based solutions that hasten drug discovery research and development. The new facility is STPI approved and has the necessary infrastructure to house 110 scientists. It intends to focus on innovative approach that enables new paradigm in drug discovery.

Research focus would be in the areas of oncology, inflammation, metabolic disorders, CNS and Skin. This research based on the Systems Biology approach involves development of in silico platforms of disease physiology at the metabolic and bio-chemical pathway level. This approach enables drug discovery teams to use these platforms as a virtual experimental system. Thus the drug discovery teams would have the benefit of using the in silico system in conjunction with currently used in vitro and in vivo techniques.

AHS on the way to expansion, to offload 15% of equity
Apollo Health Street (AHS), the healthcare business process outsourcing subsidiary of Apollo Group that runs India's largest hospital chain, plans to raise USD 70 million from the capital market by offloading 15 per cent of its equity. The Hyderabad-based company has been valued at nearly USD 470 million.

AHS is also looking to get outsourcing contracts worth several millions of dollars from private equity player Apax Partners, which runs 45 hospitals in Europe. Apax Partners had earlier picked 11% stake in parent company Apollo Hospital Enterprises for USD 100 million.

The company wants to reportedly pay off 50% of its debt through the money raised from the capital market by early next year. They are looking at inorganic growth and the financial backlog might hinder the growth. 

AHS had recently acquired US-based BPO Zavata for USD 170 million. It had raised USD 120 million as debt to part finance the acquisition. Post acquisition, AHS will have a turnover of around USD 100 million. It will come out with its Initial Public Offer in the first quarter of 2008.

In a bid to further expand,  AHS is also looking at tapping the European market. They are also looking at doing the back office work for Apax Partners, which runs around 40-45 hospitals.

Wockhardt plans 14 new hospitals; to invest up to INR 600 cr

Mumbai-based Wockhardt Hospitals is planning to set up 14 super-speciality hospitals across the country over the next two years, which could entail an investment of up to INR 600 crore.

They intend to almost double their hospitals by 2009 and add more than 1,000 beds to the current 1,100 beds. They're also planning to fund the expansion through the proceeds of its proposed Initial Public Offering (IPO).

The company is also focusing on tier II and tier III cities such as Goa, Bhopal, Nagpur among others for expansion besides metros like Delhi.

Wockhardt Hospitals Ltd has already filed its Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP) with SEBI for its IPO. The company is issuing 30,000,000 equity shares of INR 10 each through a book building process, which will constitute 28.77 per cent of the post issue paid-up capital of the company.

CII launches 'Experience Indian Healthcare' initiative
Medical value travel, more popularly termed 'Medical Tourism', was discussed at lenght as the next big window of opportunity at a recent conference organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in association with Indian Healthcare Federation(IHCF) from the 13th – 14th November 07 in New Delhi.

At the conference was released a new campaign 'Experience Indian Healthcare,' geared toward facilitating India to compete in the global heathcare market. Union Ministers Smt. Ambika Soni, of Ministry of Tourism and Sh. Anbumani Ramadoss, of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare expressed their support to the initiative at the conference.

India's medical tourism business is growing at 30% per year and is forecast to generate at least USD 2.2 billion (INR 8700 crore) a year by 2012, according to a department of tourism estimate in India.

India's Manipal AcuNova acquires German firm Ecron
Clinical research firm Manipal AcuNova Ltd recently announced it has completed the acquisition of ECRON GmbH, Europe.

The new entity ECRON AcuNova will provide end-to-end services for Phase I – IV clinical trials including project management, clinical data management, biostatistics, medical writing, central lab and bio-availability/bio equivalence (BA/BE) studies to pharma, biotech, device and diagnostic companies.

The combined strength of the new venture will be 265 employees and the company will increase headcount every year. Frankfurt will be the European HQ, Princeton for the US and Bangalore for Asia.

GE Health's new mantra:'In India, for India'

GE Healthcare's Indian arm, a joint venture between Wipro Ltd and General Electric Co., is planning to make a range of high-end technology products locally with support from its Japan unit, reducing the costs by about 40 percent, helping rural India market.
Its development centre in Bangalore has been working on digital X-rays and computed tomography devices. These, and other products including portable ultrasounds, maternal-infant care and medical equipment components are also under development; most of them targeted at rural dwellers.

GE hopes to use the core technology and build around it so as to drastically reduce cost. This could mean fabricating or sourcing a lot of the components locally.

This is especially relevant keeping in mind that the statistics reveal a gaping urban-rural divide in health-care access with resources highly skewed towards urban India. About 88% of towns have a health-care facility, compared with 24% in rural areas, 90% of which are manned by sole practitioners.

Only 20% of the country's total hospital beds are in rural areas, serving 70% of the population. A person in a village needs to travel more than 2km to reach the first health post to get a paracetamol tablet, more than 6km for a blood test and nearly 20km for hospital care.

Five big hospitals to come up in Health City, Visakhapatnam 
Plots have been allotted to four big hospital groups including Apollo and CARE in the Health City project coming up at Adarshnagar in Visakhapatnam. Aimed at making Visakhapatnam a hub for medical tourism for NRIs, the Health City with world-class facilities is expected to attract massive investment.

The Visakhapatnam Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS), a superspecialty hospital promoted by the Andhra Pradesh state government, is also part of the Health City project. It will have facilities like resorts, leisure tourism, and helipad on an area of 100 acres.

Of 65 acres earmarked for allotment to private groups adjoining VIMS, the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation has as of now allotted 10 acres to Apollo, five acres to Indian Institute of Cancer and Research, and two acres to Rockdale Hospital for Women and Children.

These projects will involve an investment of INR 370 crore. The plots are sold at the rate of INR 3 crore per acre.

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