The market is growing at 15 to 20% per year
Thyrocare operates in the in vitro diagnostic laboratory industry. Thyrocare mostly does 'plasma based diagnostics' using machines, for which they use blood samples. Earlier a part of the healthcare industry, it is now branching out as an industry of its own.
The radiology, or X-ray and scanning, diagnostics and pathology industry is very old. In money terms the industry today is close to Rs 12,000 to 14,000 crore per year, out of which about half is diagnostics and pathology.
Delhi-based SRL Ranbaxy, Mumbai-based Thyrocare, Metropolis Group, Wockhardt and the Piramal Group's Wellspring are the top organised players in this industry. Other players include the Apollo Group's Apollo Clinic chain of diagnostic centres and Dr. Lal's Pathlabs.
There are about 1,00,000 small and large laboratories in the country that do blood tests, out of which less than 100 would have accreditation, according to industry sources. The top five to six players have a large share, though most of the non-critical tests are still done by small laboratories.
The market is growing at 15 to 20 per cent per year, for three major reasons, said Sanjeev Chaudhry, CEO SRL Ranbaxy.
Firstly, there is an overall upward movement of the large middle class population in India, who want to get better treatment. Secondly, there is growing desire of people to get better diagnostics, and there is a perception that brand is equal to brain plus accuracy.
The third reason is that many clinics, including SRL Ranaxy, the Chennai-based Manipal Group's Cure and Care and Dr. Batra's, have started to include 'wellness' in their clinics. "Today's people are more interested in keeping ailments at bay, rather than go to the doctor after an ailment. That is where the concept of wellness comes in," said Chaudhry.
The top five companies in diagnostic tests are very large and have automated machines to do many tests. They have central
laboratories, which means they can do literally lakhs of tests at a very small cost. They can fly samples from any corner of the country to these central laboratories at next to no cost. They also have very successful branding campaigns.
SRL Ranbaxy is the largest company in the diagnostics, pathology and radiology segment. It completed 50 lakh individual tests in 2007-08, according to company sources. SRL started off in 1996 as research and diagnostics arm of the Ranbaxy Group of companies, which owns Ranbaxy Laboratories, India's largest medicine company by sales. It established its first central laboratory in Mumbai, and in 1998 began establishing franchisee centres across the country.
The company now has 750 collection centres, including franchises in the entire country, out of which 50 centres are in Mumbai and its suburbs. The company mostly focuses on hospitals as its clients. It currently has 42 laboratories in the entire country including the central laboratory in Mumbai, where only the most sophisticated tests are done.