MRI machines to gloves: Supplies from West hit, Russia looks at Indian medical gear

EXISTING supply chains from US and Europe disrupted because of its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow’s trade promotion body, Russia Business Council, is in talks with India for supplies of a wide sweep of medical gear: from implants to prosthetic devices, X-ray, ECG and MRI machines to surgical needles, instruments and gloves.

A meeting between the Indian and Russian stakeholders as well as the Ministry of Commerce is scheduled for April 29 and Olga Kulikova, Business Ambassador to India, told The Indian Express from Moscow that among the eight broad categories of medical devices Russia was looking at includes dental equipment, medical furniture and cosmetology devices.

Russia, incidentally, had become one of the largest importers of cosmetics and cosmetology equipment from South Korea but the invasion of Ukraine has stalled that trade. Russia imports a significant share of its medical equipment from the European Union and the United States — estimated at $1.6 billion a year.

“There is no shortage of most medical devices in Russia yet but despite medical devices not being on lists of sanctions, supplies coming from our partners in UK, the USA, France and Germany have been badly hit,” said Kulikova. “So the situation is unpredictable. We hope India will pay attention to this potential which has opened up in the Russian market.”

“Our stocks of crucial medical devices were adequate but now it is not possible for Russia to import medical equipment, implants or devices from the Western world. We are looking to India since it is a manufacturing leader for several categories of medical devices such as orthopaedic implants and syringes,” she added.

Early this month, Business Russia Council and the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) began talks with the Indian organisation having sent a list of around 100 registered Indian medical device manufacturers to Moscow.

On the agenda for the upcoming talks is the registration of Indian medical devices and equipment in the Russian Federation and the EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union) and processes needed for the documentation and translation as well as sampling and testing of medical devices and equipment.

According to Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator for AiMeD, a major advantage was the fact that a Memorandum of Understanding was already signed in 2020 between them and All Russia Public Organisation Business Russia for cooperation in the sector.

“Russia is a huge potential market for Indian medical devices and equipment and we are looking towards a favourable Rupee-Rouble exchange rate and the easing of regulatory barriers for fast-tracking such exports” he told The Indian Express.

According to a Reuters report, exports of essential medical devices to Russia from the West has been “partly restored, reducing the immediate risk of life-threatening shortages after a near-total collapse when the war in Ukraine began.”

“While medical devices and prescription drugs are exempt from sanctions, their delivery to Russia has been hit by transport, insurance and customs hurdles caused by the war and by the restrictive measures,” Reuters reported.

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