The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with other government departments, will roll out low-cost diagnostic kits for testing lifestyle diseases.

The first such kit is to be launched in 2014, said V.M. Katoch, Secretary, Department of Health Research and Director-General, ICMR. He was interacting with reporters after inaugurating a multidisciplinary research facility in Yenepoya University here on Wednesday.

He said, “The ICMR has many ‘leads’ from about 34 institutions, which are being converted into products. Of them, we have chosen 75, and 30 [kits] will be ready in 2014… and at least a dozen by March.” But Dr. Katoch did not say which diagnostic kit will be launched first. While Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, has set a December deadline for the ICMR, four to five kits are at the same level of development and any of them could be launched first.

“(Development of) diabetes (kit) is moving quite fast… I can’t comment,” he said.

The kit for cervical cancer “is on priority”.

The ICMR will hold a review meeting by the month-end on the kits. The council has diagnostic kits for food-borne pathogens, haemoglobinopathies and dengue, though vector control and medical management also matter in dealing with dengue. The aim is to sell the kits at prices 75 per cent lower than the market price.

Dr. Katoch said, “Whichever test kit is developed with our support or developed by us, the price for the public has to be decided by us. And it can’t be expensive. For (other) consumers, market forces will decide.”

The Department of Health Research of the ICMR has introduced schemes which will involve departments such as Biotechnology, and Science and Technology so that “leads” from any quarter can be turned into products.

The diagnostic kits would be those that would be ICMR-led and those that were from other departments and assisted by the council.

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