Evolution of Molecular Diagnostics Market - An Expert's Perspective (#2) (Focus: India)
For our second interview in the "Evolution of Molecular Diagnostics Market - An Expert's Perspective" series, we interviewed Mr. Rajendra, Quality Assurance Manager, Strand Life Sciences, Bengaluru. Read this interview to learn about his experience and observations regarding the Indian cancer molecular diagnostics space.
Mr. Rajendra Kumar G S Quality Assurance Manager Strand Life Sciences, Bengaluru
What sort of qualitative changes you have observed regarding the cancer molecular diagnostic tests in the last 5 years?
Mr. Rajendra: The world of molecular diagnostic has undergone revolutionary changes over the last few years as knowledge and technology has evolved. The focus being on the molecular and genomic level, the diagnostic tests are now moving towards personalized medicine. The other changes are -
Risk based approach in screening the family members
Pathologists now specialised in the sub-speciality of Oncology like Oncopathology, Oncohematology which are recognised by the Medical Council of India
Emphasis on counselling of patients / family on test details and outcomes
Does your lab receive test requests from prescribers (doctors) OR are there cases of individuals coming to you on their own as they suspect them to be a carrier or at a high-risk?
Mr. Rajendra: In our lab, the tests are carried out only if they are prescribed or referred by the treating physician.
With respect to molecular diagnostics, prescriptions have gone up to 40% compared to what we use to have 3 years ago.
Do you see an increasing trend among Indian healthcare professionals prescribing molecular diagnostic tests for selecting the right therapy for their cancer patients?
Mr. Rajendra: Definitely! With respect to molecular diagnostics, prescriptions have gone up to 40% compared to what we use to have 3 years ago. Currently, there are specialized referral laboratories catering exclusively to molecular diagnostics. As mentioned earlier, physicians are tapping on to personalised medicine and, with the use of molecular diagnostics they can provide the right diagnosis at the right time.
What are the key challenges behind prescription of cancer diagnostic tests by the doctors?
Mr. Rajendra: The major challenge behind the prescription of cancer diagnostic tests would be cost. The price of molecular diagnostic tests as compared to another general test is large. The other challenges are -
Prescribing clinicians are unaware of molecular diagnostic test interpretations
These tests are not covered under Insurance (TPA or CGHS or ECHS) and so for patients this is out of their pocket expense
Most of the cancers require radical treatment regimens and many a times difficult to wait for the result. Average time taken for molecular biology diagnostics tests is 72 hours
Patients / Family are less sensitized to these tests compared to Radiology / Surgery
Currently, TAT for reports are between 72 hours to 7 days, depending on the laboratory and tests prescribed
Could you comment on how easy it is to take sample? Also, how fast they can expect to get the reports?
Mr. Rajendra: It is very easy to take samples. Most of the tests are done on peripheral blood which is an easily available sample and certain tests are also done on FFPE blocks (post Histopathology) where patient does not have to come to laboratory to give samples. Currently, TAT for reports are between 72 hours to 7 days, depending on the laboratory and tests prescribed.
What are the key future trends in the cancer molecular diagnostics area? How is the whole sector going to evolve?
Mr. Rajendra: According to me, cancer diagnostics is a fast-growing area that is directly positioned to benefit from the personalized medicine. It has opportunity to grow at about 150-200 % in the next two years, if we succeed in tackling the challenges like cost, insurance coverage, TAT. We expect cost to decrease in future due to the higher volume.
It was an insightful discussion. Thank you for your time! Mr. Rajendra: Thank you!