Forbes India I Apr, 2021:
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For the last four decades, Mr. Suresh Vazirani, Founder of India’s Leading In-vitro Diagnostic Company, has had just one dream; of a ‘Healthier World’ where everyone has equitable access to quality and affordable diagnostics. But what made a qualified engineer, give up on illustrious career prospects to travel an untrodden path?
Face-to-face with reality
All of 19, and having just completed his engineering, Mr. Suresh Vazirani joined the Moral Re-armament, a social initiative committed to building a clean, strong and united India. He then came in close contact with Raj Mohan Gandhi and Jayprakash Narayan of the Sarvodaya Movement. While on a visit to one of the reputed Mumbai hospitals to meet Jayaprakash Narayan who was being treated there, he saw a lot of critical medical equipment not available due to frequent break-downs. To make matters worse, with most being imported, after-sales service was a major challenge. And that was the turning point of his career and the beginning of Transasia Bio-Medicals Ltd.
The journey of four decades
At that time, most hospitals and labs functioned with very basic equipment that required a lot of manual testing, leaving scope for errors. With a measly sum of Rs. 250 and a Rs. 1 lakh loan from a good Samaritan friend, Mr. Suresh Vazirani started Transasia Bio-Medicals Ltd. as a provider of after-sales support for imported equipment. It took Mr. Vazirani about three years of continuous efforts to convince pathologists on the benefits of automated blood analyzers. Needless to say, these imported instruments were expensive. Mr. Vazirani soon realized that affordability and accessibility need to go hand-in-hand to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment for the 70% Indians, who have never got their blood tested. The imported equipment, were not suited to the highly fragmented, price sensitive markets in India with poor infrastructure and expertise.
That’s when he decided to scale-up and start manufacturing in India. By the 1990s, Transasia had set-up a manufacturing facility at Mumbai and started looking at overseas operations. In fact, it soon entered the European market, having received the CE certification and became the first Indian company to exhibit at AACC (USA) and Medica (Germany), the two top global healthcare exhibitions. In 2002, Mr. Vazirani started Erba Mannheim, Germany. He combined efficient, low cost manufacturing and unparalleled market expertise to make world-class European technology accessible to emerging markets.
This was very soon followed by Transasia crossing the 1 billion mark to become India’s largest IVD Company and a strong contender in other developing markets across the globe.
Today, Transasia is recognized as the Leading IVD Company in India, with the largest team of sales and service specialists, covering the entire length and breadth of the country. Globally, it serves over 100 countries through its 15 subsidiaries and it continues to grow to increase the number of lives it touches in its vision of creating ‘a Healthier and Happier World.’
“Whether it was in 1979, when as a country we lacked the basic infrastructure to make our own diagnostic equipment, or in 2020, when the need was to quickly respond with testing solutions to curb the spread of the pandemic, I have always believed that extra-ordinary situations demand extra-ordinary responses. And I am proud that Transasia-Erba has always stood up to the challenges and successfully filled these gaps.”
Accessible and Affordable, Made in India solutions - the guiding light for a Healthier India
Statistics show that 70% Indians have undergone a diagnostic test and have no access to even basic diagnostic facilities. Add to that, 70% of the treatment decisions are based on lab results! But, how does one cater to this need, when 80% of the medical devices are imported, making them out of reach of most Indians?
Time and again, Mr. Vazirani has been emphasizing on the need for ‘Made in India’ solutions in order to ensure quality and affordability. In fact, Transasia has been endorsing the Make in India concept since the early 1990s, long before it formally came into prominence.
Its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities at Mumbai, Daman, Baddi, Sikkim and Vizag are ISO, ICMED and US FDA compliant and employ GMP to churn out quality and affordable diagnostic instruments and test kits across all segments and to cater to communicable and lifestyle diseases.
However, just having quality solutions without a strong and well-knit after-sales service network is not the answer to meet India’s diagnostic needs. Transasia is proud to have the largest team of sales and service specialists in the Indian IVD Industry who reach out to over 5000+ tier II-IV cities, towns and villages including the farthest north-eastern regions in a record time of just 4-5 hours.
Today, Transasia has an impressive installed base of 70,000 equipments across 40,000 laboratories in India. Over 150 crore blood tests are done on a Transasia equipment every year benefitting more than 200 million people. In fact, every second, 50 tests are conducted on a Transasia product!
“It is important to understand the evolving needs of the customers and that is possible only when we reach out to them. Some of the torchbearers of the Indian pathology landscape, have been with us since our very first day, and continue to trust our products and services through three generations. That’s what sets Transasia apart.”
Key contributor to a Stronger and Healthier post COVID economy
Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented situation across the world. While the pandemic and the lockdown created several bottle-necks for the medtech manufacturers and diagnostic service providers, it brought to the forefront the need for quality diagnostic infrastructure as the first step to contain the spread of infection.
Through cohesive collaboration between domain experts in India and globally, the Transasia-Erba group has introduced COVID testing kits of high sensitivity and specificity in molecular and ELISA formats. Going forward, there will be a need for Indian manufacturers to scale up production. The setting up of Transasia’s world-class manufacturing facility at AMTZ, Vishakhapatnam, is an answer to this foresight. Sprawling over 35,000 sq. feet, the facility is the first of its kind and largest in Asia for COVID-19 products. In the future, this facility will serve as the global hub for all infectious tests such as TB, Malaria, HIV, Hepatitis etc.
“Prevention is better than cure: An age-old adage that, post the pandemic has become the mantra for healthy living. The real utility of diagnosis is in preventive care. And for that every Indian should get tested atleast once a year. I reiterate, that as a country we need to shift focus from tertiary to preventive care. Collaborative efforts between the industry and the Government, can help in reducing the disease burden, through indigenous manufacturing to meet atleast 50% of our diagnostic needs in 5 years.”
A visionary with a heart
While Mr. Vazirani continues to scale new heights in pursuit of excellence, he is driven by causes close to his heart. And one such cause is Thalassemia. With a vision for a Thalassemia-free India, Transasia’s CSR arm, Vazirani Foundation, has been closely associated with Parents Association of Thalassemia Unit Trust (PATUT) to raise funds for the treatment of thalassemic children needing Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT). For over a decade, Transasia and PATUT have organized awareness and screening camps for college students, helping them understand their role in preventing Thalassemia.
Mr. Vazirani strongly believes that there is a lot more we can do for a Healthier India, in addition to just offering the latest in medical technology. He is driven by the passion to make diagnostics more accessible as well as affordable, thereby contributing to the growth of the industry. Quality instruments without enough skilled lab technicians, would not help reach the goal. And so, he closely associates himself to encouraging skill development. An effort in this direction is the Erba Institute of Laboratory Technology that imparts training and aims to fill the acute shortage of qualified and well trained lab technicians.
Shaping the future of the Indian IVD Industry
Mr. Vazirani continues to remain committed to help form the future of the IVD Industry. Between now and 2022, Transasia’s R&D labs in France, UK, USA, Austria and India, will launch over 10 exciting, state-of-the-art instruments in the fields of CLIA, Molecular, high-end hematology, Artificial Intelligence, LIS, among others. Also in the offing is a “Total Lab Automation” solution aimed at mid and large size laboratories. All these will soon make Erba-Transasia one among the top five companies globally to have ‘Total Solutions in Laboratory Diagnostics.’
Providing end-to-end services with an emphasis on training will continue to remain most relevant to Transasia, as the need for knowledge and competencies continues to increase.
“Diagnostics technology is moving fast in the direction of full automation and Artificial Intelligence. Our R&D teams in India and Europe are working on developing simpler and more affordable ways for blood analysis. While technology will continue to make in-roads, reliability and affordability will remain our main focus for benefitting 125 crores of our fellow Indians.”