As per the World Population Prospects 2017, the fertility rate of Indians reduced by over 50% from 4.97 during 1975-80 to 2.3 for 2015-20
By: Jayata Sharma
The fertility and the genomics industries are both upcoming fields in India. With the rising concerns over dip in fertility levels & the growing spending capacity of the average young Indian couples for IVF procedures and also to explore the genetics angle, both these industries are seeing a rise in growth like never before.
To know more about these segments, we had a conversation with one of the leading players in this sector, CooperSurgicals. In an interview with Dr. Amit Kumar Bhatnagar, Country General Manager – Origio India Pvt. Ltd- A CooperSurgicals Company, we explore the markets & what makes it work.
A post doctorate from the University of Mumbai and MBA from Symbiosis, Pune, Dr. Amit Kr. Bhatnagar, is one of the youngest CEOs at the age of 40. He has more than 19 years of experience in different spheres of the healthcare industry with domestic and international exposure in driving profitable P&L (South West Asia), strategic planning, marketing, distribution, high stake partnerships and licensing, involving both start-ups and growth organizations.
Dr. Bhatnagar started his career as a Research Scientist in Auroprobe Laboratory in 2000 and moved to BD for their diagnostics segment after almost 2 years. With his passion, dedication and agility, he has not only grown in the industry but has also proven his versatility by handling different business segments and profiles right from Microbiology in BD India to Molecular Biology in Roche, Flow Cytometry in Beckman Coulter and now heading the India operations for CooperSurgicals Fertility Company’s Origio India.
He has recently received the prestigious Medachiever Healthcare Leader of the Year, Top 100 Healthcare Leaders & ABP News Healthcare Excellence Award, CEO of the Year award and APAC CGM of the year award at CooperSurgicals for his strong leadership and driving tremendous growth for Origio India consecutively for the 2nd year.
His specialties include Obs & Gyn, IVD, Life Science, Clinical Diagnostics, Business & Strategy Development, P&L Management, Product & Marketing, Planning & Execution, Talent Management, Key Account Management, Government Tender Business, Clinical Advocacy & Market Shaping.
An interview with Dr. Amit Bhatnagar…
How has India’s fertility & genomics industry grown over the past decade?
In India, the growth of the IVF market is attributed to a steep rise in infertile patients over the past decade. This market has witnessed double digit growth, higher than 15% in the last 5 years, supported by significant growth in the Indian medical tourism and exaggerated infertile domestic population of approximately 28 million. In the last 10 years, many new service providers are seeking to invest by increasing collaboration with chains/independent clinics and renowned healthcare providers in India. As a result, many infertility centres and genetics centres can be seen growing even in Tier II and Tier III. In the last few years, access and awareness to solve infertility problem is on the rise in this country.
Kindly share some statistics & figures for us to understand better.
The Indian IVF as well as genetics market is bound to witness a rapid inflation in its growth rate in the coming years. The IVF market in India is expected to bring in INR 26.3 billion by 2022. Similarly, the Indian IVF genetic market is expected to reach INR 2 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 13% over the forecasted period.
In recent years, there has been a fusion of both these sectors. Kindly share your thoughts on the value this fusion adds to the whole delivery experience?
I would not say it is fusion of both these sectors, it’s a mandatory requirement, to do genetic analysis to ensure transferred embryo is safe for the implantation. Such services are brining best clinical outcomes and smiles to the infertile couples.
Why is India’s fertility issue on the rise?
As per the World Population Prospects 2017, the fertility rate of Indians reduced by over 50% from 4.97 during 1975-80 to 2.3 for 2015-20. A further reduction of the fertility rate to 2.1 is expected during 2015-30 and 1.78 by the end of the century. The major reason behind this is not a defect in our bodies, but simply the changing lifestyle of the current generation. Increasing urbanisation has led to people living lethargic lifestyle and indulging in unhealthy food habits, leading to obesity and diabetes. Many studies have shown that more than 40% of women attending infertility clinics are found to be obese and in men too, obesity brings down sperm quality. More factors known to have big impacts on fertility and the chance of conception are smoking, excessive alcohol and drug abuse or being significantly underweight.
Right now, which procedures are the most in demand in the Indian market?
Currently, India is going through a change from routine IVF process to ICSI (selecting single sperm and injecting with best egg by using technology). We do see a 20%-80% split as per our analysis. This industry is moving towards newer tests to be launched in genetics space using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and adopting electronic witnessing technology to avoid errors in the labs. One more important trend that we see is that customers are moving towards freezing all cycles, our estimated numbers are that 95% cycles are now frozen cycles.
CooperSurgicals has a worldwide presence. As per you, which global trends & technologies can the Indian healthcare industry learn from?
As per our analysis, moving towards AI or digitisation in the field of fertility is most critical, which we can learn from the global fertility and genomics clinics. Having said that, following the best practices and global guidelines in the field of fertility and genomics is the key for the best clinical outcomes.
What are the challenges of the Indian segment? How do you think these can be overcome?
Access – this segment is skewed towards private players, very limited clinics in the government sector, limited IVF specialists and embryologists in this country to provide services.
Awareness – Big challenge in this country due to large population base.
Affordability – Expensive treatment overall and not guaranteed for success, no insurance coverage so far.
Last but not the least, we don’t have guidelines from the government for this segment.
India’s diversity makes it particularly challenging for genomics. Your thoughts on this.
The power of a billion – India can do genomics revolutions, currently 1.3 billion diversified human genomes don’t contribute significantly to the global genetic databases. Mapping diversified population is a big challenge, but we need to start now and this will change the health outcome for all individuals, allowing them to have a longer and better quality life.
Do you think project IndiGen will take us in the right direction? Was the data collected through this, enough to draw conclusions & plan the future for the Indian market?
The Indian CSIR has launched an ambitious project, IndiGen, to sequence diverse ethnic Indian population to develop public health technology applications. IndiGen aims to complete sequencing of 10,000 genomes in next three years, which is a good start but needs substantial expansion to reach other countries’ target of about 100,000 genomes. We need to work on collecting more data and framing polices that can enable the project to provide substantial information for India healthcare market.
Cooper Surgical provides trainings too. Kindly shed some more light on this. If a healthcare organisation wishes to avail of a training module, how can they do it?
As a company, we have 4 key strengths and priorities – Sharing Knowledge, Providing Solutions, Innovation and Trainings. We provide hands on training in the field of IVF at our Centre of Excellences (COE’s). We have established 6 COE’s worldwide, including one in Mumbai, providing scientific training courses to healthcare professionals to optimize performance, learn new skills and network globally with international peers. HCP’s can visit our website to register online for our training programs (www.coopersurgical.com).
Tell us more about how Cooper Surgical is changing the landscape of fertility & genomics in India.
Our tag line & mission is Healthy women, babies and families – which means we are committed to driving best practices to achieve the highest clinical outcomes, knowledge partnership and advocacy with the fertility scientific community to frame guidelines, driving insurance coverage in India, which will in turn change the way of IVF practice in this country, bring affordable solution for fertility and genomics for the population at large. Last and most important is to introduce AI in this country to revolutionise the way we do our data analysis in the field of fertility and genomics.
How does the future look like?
Future looks existing – fortunate to be in this field, which is growing faster than any healthcare vertical in this country. We have a larger role to play in the future and would like to grow with our customers and at the same time would like to bring smiles to the infertile population seeking fertility treatment.