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Now clinical research opts for outsourcing

May 05, 2008 15:24 IST

After business, knowledge and legal process outsourcing, the Indian industries are now eyeing 'diagnostics jobs' outsourcing from other countries.

According to industry experts, a number of hospitals in the US and Europe are outsourcing laboratory and diagnostic tests to India as it helps in saving cost and money while maintaining quality.

The Indian diagnostics and pathology laboratory business is around $864 million and is growing at a rate of 20 per cent annually, they say.

Accordng to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the size of the global clinical trials market was nearly $10 billion and predicted to have touched by $26 billion by 2007.

"Diagnostics and lab testing outsourcing is certainly the most potential business domain. We are trying to tap available opportunities in it," says Dr G S K Velu, Managing Director, Metropolis Health Services India Ltd.

"There is an excellent outsourcing opportunity to test around one million samples a year," he says.

The other emerging sector --Clinical Research Outsourcing -- is also witnessing surge in the country. The drug manufacturing units are outsourcing different phases relating to development of medicine to India.

In the case of diagnostics, X-rays and other procedures are done abroad and the reports by experts are written here and sent back, while in the case of lab tests, the photomicrographs are electronically sent here and the doctors send back the results, says Velu.

We plan to offer tele-pathology services to cater to the needs of foreign clients faster, he says adding that countries like West Asia, Srilanka, Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh and UK outsource tests to India.

At present, the volume is not very high but the market potential is huge as European countries as also the US are in talks to outsource their work in this area.

Metropolis, that provides hospital Laboratory management services and outsource number of diagnostic related works to India, has number of labs in Middle East and South-East Asian countries, including Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

"We processes more than 10 million sample tests per year and around one per cent from outsourcing, Velu adds.

"There is a great opportunity for tapping CRO in the nation. The volume of business is expected to touch $1-1.5 bn mark by 2010," said Dr Umakanta Sahoo, Managing Director, Chiltren International, a global CRO firm.

There are as many as 30 Global CROs and 100 companies involved in doing clinical research related jobs in the country.

Most of the work comes from US (almost 20 per cent) and Europe (70-80 per cent). We undertake approximately 300 studies a year, he says.

"It is not the lack of expertise behind outsourcing Clinical Research related jobs. But, availability of manpower and time saving,"  he says.

The sector is also poised to deliver excellent job opportunity and career options to research fellows. McKinsey estimated that the Indian CR (clinical research) market will grow to $1.5 billion in value by 2010.

"Research job is not regarded much in our country. We need to train researchers to meet the growing demands in CRO," he added.

Asserting that the country has bouquet of products to offer to foreign clients and attract outsourcing, he said. "There is urgent need to market our products globally. The government has to start speaking globally about diagnostics and lab work outsourcing in the same way as information technology."

Ashwini Shrivastava in New Delhi
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