Visakhapatnam: Doctors at Visakhapatnam's King George Hospital (KGH) on Monday refused to conduct clinical trials of a ventilator that has been billed as a vastly cheaper alternative to imported equipment.
The ventilator was assembled at the Andhra Pradesh Medtech Zone (AMTZ), a 270 acre facility promoted by the government of Andhra Pradesh to push medical device manufacturing in India and reduce import dependence. AMTZ chief executive officer Jitendra Sharma has been claiming that the ventilator is a top class medical equipment being fashioned at the facility.
However, KGH superintendent Dr G Arjuna and chief of anaesthesia Dr A Satyanarayana told this correspondent that the ventilator offered for testing did not have proper sensors and did not meet specifications set by the central government.
"We asked them to bring us full-fledged equipment for the trials. The AMTZ representatives agreed and took back the equipment,’’ Dr Satyanarayana said.
This false start has belied the hopes of the state government that AMTZ would be able to meet the currently high demand for ventilators, which cannot be procured from a foreign country under the present conditions.
CEO Jitendra Sharma has been claiming that the zone AMTZ emerge as the biggest manufacturer of medical equipment in the country and bring down the import bill of the government.
No representative of AMTZ was available to react to the KGH rejection of a clinical trial.
The central government had made an agreement with AMTZ for manufacturing and assembling ventilators as the demand for the equipment had gone up all over the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.
An imported high-end ventilator costs around Rs 15 lakh and a standard one Rs 7 lakh. AMTZ managers have assured the central government that they would supply low-end ventilators for Rs 2 lakh a piece. It was also agreed that AMTZ would assemble 50 ventilators in a day.
"Around 70 percent of the ventilators in the country are imported and the AMTZ would do well to supply a good number at a low price,’’ Dr Satyanarayana said.
The central government authorised the King George Hospital to conduct clinical trials and approve the equipment before going in for large-scale production. A KGH team visited AMTZ recently and examined the assembling process.
Dr Satynanarayana said a ventilator was sent to New Delhi for testing and one was brought to KGH. This is for the first time the equipment was put to clinical trial. Earlier, a technical trial was conducted within AMTZ premises and it was be successful....