An official in the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers said the department of pharmaceuticals is holding discussions with state governments for developing clusters to make medical equipments that will allow safe, effective and clinically-beneficial medical technologies for the domestic and export markets.

“We have finalized a project with the Gujarat government. The first cluster in the state is likely to be ready by the end of 2009,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

The INR100 billion domestic medical devices industry produces low-technology products and exports over 70% of its output. So, critical medical devices such as stents, catheters, heart valves and orthopaedic implants have to be imported in heavy volumes. The bill for such imports hit INR75 billion in the previous year.

The government plan of INR3 billion will benefit millions of patients in the india, as sophisticated equipment is a major cost component of healthcare in private hospitals.

Most patients cannot afford less-invasive procedures such as keyhole surgery because of high cost of imported catheters and other devices that inflate the cost of treatment.

Official added that the domestic manufacture of medical devices is expected to considerably reduce their prices.