Future of Healthcare – T. Sayandhan, CEO of the Medical Devices Division of Sunshine Healthcare Lanka Ltd

With over three decades of experience in the Healthcare industry in pharmaceuticals and medical devices, T. Sayandhan began his fascinating career journey as a Medical Representative of GlaxoSmithKline PLC. Today, he serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Medical Devices Division of Sunshine Healthcare Lanka Ltd, a subsidiary of Sunshine Holdings PLC.

During the first decade of his career at GlaxoSmithKline PLC as the Brand and Category Manager, he built Augmentin as the best pharmaceutical brand in Sri Lanka. The second decade of his career was at Hemas Pharmaceuticals, where he worked in the capacity of Country Manager for MNC’s Allergan and Abbott Medical Optics and grew Allergan from a 13% to 50% market share in the ophthalmology segment, which was an all-time record. The next four years elevated him to the position of CEO at Delmege Forsyth & Co. Ltd, to be in charge of the entire healthcare cluster. This paved the way for him to join Sunshine Healthcare, one of the Healthcare industry’s most respected companies.

As the world grapples with a global emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Healthcare industry has been placed in the spotlight as people expect developments in healthcare to cure the virus. Accordingly, Sayandhan stated that the research and development is a long, complex and costly process.

The industry will use a lot of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics in creating and developing new products. Genomics, known as next generation sequencing, can be used to treat infectious diseases and contribute to ‘precision medicine’ in oncology, where each patient will be considered unique based on age, gender, DNA, etc. In areas such as in-vitro diagnostics, smart automation and pace would increase in order to reduce human errors and improve accuracy. This will contribute to reducing lead time and increasing predictability. Many costs leading to productivity would be cut by long-term automation.

“Medical robotics and computer-assisted procedures can lead to surgeries that are more precise and effective. This would assist with a much shorter recovery time for patients. Some of these advances would allow surgeons to have more clarity and clearer views on surgery to help achieve better outcomes. Innovations in the Healthcare industry will be ongoing and continuous.”

Expressing his views on local production, Sayandhan mentioned that it has already begun and it will boost the Sri Lankan economy. “There are many who are investing in local manufacturing. This approach also gives us the opportunity to create and innovate new chemical entities to strengthen our skills in ‘Research & Growth’ that can lift Sri Lanka to a better position on the world map. There is a greater scope in the demand for locally produced goods.”

Moreover, he pointed out that Sri Lanka has the potential to collaborate and invest in pharmaceuticals and medical devices. “Being the hub in the heart of Asia, with our people’s high levels of literacy together with competence and comparatively offering lower production costs with the help of government stakeholders, Sri Lanka can bring many potential collaborations and investments to offer quality healthcare products, partnering with global manufacturers.”

In most countries, healthcare is provided at a cost that is often expensive, however, Sri Lanka has a universal healthcare system that is a national priority and provides free healthcare to all people.

“We are blessed to receive free education and free healthcare facilities across the nation,” the CEO said, praising the system. “Irrespective of income levels, the quality healthcare facility offered to all citizens is totally free and has easy access to any specialty to treat any disease. Furthermore, the Public sector healthcare facilities, which provide high quality medical care standards, and the government increasing the healthcare budget each year will speak for itself.”

Sayandhan noted that the industry is highly regulated by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) when questioned about the regulatory environment surrounding the Healthcare industry in Sri Lanka. “The Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices industry is regulated by the NMRA. Its primary objective is to ensure every patient in Sri Lanka gets quality, efficacy and safe products for treatment, diagnostics or surgery. The NMRA has given specific guidelines and classifications to register pharmaceutical products and medical devices in Sri Lanka. Registration processes ensure that any product entering Sri Lanka will meet the quality, efficacy and safety standards.  As of late, the NMRA regulates the prices as well.”

Speaking further, the industry expert claimed that quality is an important factor in the Healthcare industry and that it is the responsibility of suppliers and distributors. “There are several quality and safety standards set, which are subject to regular and constant audits by producers and distributors. Some of the checks are impromptu.  Many compliance audits are conducted by the suppliers in order to ensure quality. The industry further enhances product quality in how they manage the adverse reaction process developed by manufacturers around the globe. Hence, in the Healthcare industry, ensuring quality, efficacy and safety is a must.”

To conclude, Sayandhan affirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the healthcare industry with many opportunities and will focus on quick wins by selling COVID-related products such as vaccines, face masks and disinfectants.

“In 2021, the Covid -19 vaccines will be one of the industry’s highest revenue earners. There will be potential long-term possibilities such as telehealth or telemedicine for the industry. With more and more remote handling, with larger numbers of mobile apps and tracking systems, there will be more Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Opportunities will continue to expand in the Healthcare industry.”

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