From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Medical Devices (Amendment) Rules, 2020
Mains level : Regulation of medical devices in India
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has notified changes in the Medical Devices Rules, 2017 to regulate medical devices on the same lines as drugs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
Medical Devices (Amendment) Rules, 2020
- These rules are applicable to devices intended for internal or external use in the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of disease or disorder in human beings or animals” (as notified by the ministry).
- It requires online registration of these devices “with the Central Licensing Authority through an identified online portal established by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation for this purpose.
- Among the information that the manufacturer has to upload are “name & address of the company or firm or any other entity manufacturing the medical device along with name and address of manufacturing site.
- It also need to upload certificate of compliance with respect to ISO 13485 standard accredited by National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies or International Accreditation Forum.
- This would mean that every medical device, either manufactured in India or imported, will have to have quality assurance before they can be sold anywhere in the country.
- After furnishing of the above information a registration number will be generated. Manufacturer shall mention the registration number on the label of the medical device.
What are the items covered under the new Rules?
- A large number of commonly used items including hypodermic syringes and needles, cardiac stents, perfusion sets, catheters, orthopaedic implants, bone cements, lenses, sutures, internal prosthetic replacements etc are covered under the new rules.
- For some items such as sphygmomanometers (used to monitor blood pressure), glucometers (to check blood sugar), thermometers, CT scan and MRI equipment, dialysis and X-ray machines, implants etc, different deadlines for compliance have been set.
- For example for the first three, it is January 2021, for the others it is April next year. For ultrasound equipment, it is November 2020.
Is this a sudden move?
- This has been in the offing for some time now.
- In October last year, the ministry had circulated copies of the then proposed notification for public comments following recommendations of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), which is the highest technical body for these decisions and has experts among its members.
- In April last year, the DTAB had recommended that all medical devices should be notified as “drugs” under the drug regulation law to ensure they maintain safety and quality standards.
- The notification makes it clear that the government has issued it in consultation with the DTAB.
Why was the move required?
- For much of the last one year, the health sector has been at the centre of attention following revelations about faulty hip implants marketed by pharma major Johnson & Johnson.
- This has caused major embarrassment to the government, too, as it exposed the lack of regulatory teeth when it came to medical devices.
- The matter dragged on, exposing the regulatory loopholes until finally the company agreed in court to pay Rs 25 lakh each to the 67 people who had had to undergo revision surgeries because the implants were defective.
- That is really where the discussion started about regulation of medical devices.
What are the penal provisions under Indian law?
- There are various penal provisions under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 for various kinds of offences. Manufacture or sale of substandard items is punishable with imprisonment of at least 10 years, which may extend to imprisonment for life.
- There is also a provision for fine that will “not be less than Rs 10 lakh rupees or three times value of the confiscated items”.