Terumo BCT to develop next-gen medical devices with Capgemini

Global leader in blood component and cellular technologies has R&D facility at Trivandrum; company head speaks on challenges and potential in Indian blood market

March 05, 2018 12:26 am | Updated 12:26 am IST

Pune: U.S.-based blood bank technology major Terumo BCT has selected services and consulting firm Capgemini to set up two global innovation and development (I&D) centres in India.

Terumo BCT, a global leader in blood component and cellular technologies headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado, has had a presence in India since the early 1980s, and a research and development (R&D) facility at Trivandrum was set up in 1989.

In an exclusive interview with The Hindu , David Perez, president and CEO, Terumo BCT, spoke on the challenges and the potential in the Indian blood market.

What are the major problems in the Indian blood bank scene?

There is a lack of a unified blood transfusion system in India. The most important factor in ensuring a safe blood supply is an adequate pool of regular, voluntary donors. Here, a major obstacle is that this pool is small and there is excessive reliance on replacement donors.

What is the condition of blood banks in India?

The Indian blood banking sector is fragmented and has a large number of very small blood banks, which may not have the required resources to meet the requisite quality standards.

The country has over 2,700 blood banks which collect around 11 million units of blood as compared to the U.S. which has about 500 blood banks that collect 14 million units of blood.

In India, one sees many shortcomings in the quality of the disposables such as the blood bags being used, the maintenance of specialised blood bank equipment, the physical infrastructure, and the quality of human resources in general.

All of this has an adverse impact on the safety of the blood supply. Leading government hospitals and private hospital chains, which are well equipped, are more often the exception rather than the rule.

Is more regulation necessary to ensure the safety of blood supply regarding the Indian market?

While the regulation is there on paper, one finds the implementation suffering. Top medical establishments like AIIMS and Fortis adhere to quality standards, but the scene outside the metros is in stark contrast as there is no effort to upgrade equipment to international standards.

Further, 48% of America’s blood generation is carried out by the U.S. Red Cross while the balance is supplied by community centres. A similar centralised body is lacking in India. So, more standardisation and regulation is the need of the hour.

What does it take to manufacture medical devices in India?

Besides the criteria of high investment and highly trained personnel, it does take a lot to create a world-class medical device unit here as it requires high quality raw material, components and packaging manufactured adhering to stringent specifications. Blood components such as platelets, fresh frozen plasma, and red cell concentrates are therapeutic agents that must conform to Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) standards. A quality blood bag preserves blood and its components in its original condition till it is safely transfused to a patient. It preserves each blood component free from contamination by microorganisms and ensures that the therapeutic efficacy of each blood component is maintained throughout its life.

We have had a presence in the Indian market since the mid-1980s and set up a research and development (R & D) facility in Trivandrum in 1989. Terumo Penpol, the Indian arm of Terumo BCT in Trivandrum, employs a team of 1,500, and is growing.

Our blood bag factory in Trivandrum today manufactures 30 million blood bags per year and medical devices which are exported to over 80 countries across the world.

How is Terumo BCT planning to expand in India?

Terumo BCT has been a market leader in unlocking the potential of blood for over four decades. We recognise the immense potential and capability of the highly-skilled and knowledgeable human resources in India and hence are rapidly expanding our innovation and development (I&D) centers here by tying up with Capgemini.

We have selected Capgemini to help build next-generation platforms for Terumo BCT’s devices owing to its knowledge of the medical devices sector, its expertise in innovative technologies for next-generation connected healthcare, and its agility and ability to scale for a faster launch to market.

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