Siemens has outlined plans to establish itself as a leading provider of radiopharmaceuticals in India through the construction of numerous manufacturing facilities.

The company has already built a plant in Chennai on the southeastern coast of India and intends to construct a further four or five production facilities in the coming years. Siemens is hoping to supply the growing demand for radiopharmaceuticals in India where 1m people are diagnosed with cancer every year.

Michael Reitermann, CEO, molecular imaging, Siemens Healthcare, said: “As advancements in molecular imaging move forward, it is imperative that this technology is made available to everyone in order to better diagnose and treat life-threatening diseases. 

“Being able to offer this positron emission tomography (PET) technology to the residents of Chennai and the surrounding community is a giant step in making this dream a reality.”

The location of the new facilities has not yet been made public but it is known that Siemens intends to establish a base in each of India’s geographic regions and that three will be located near hospitals owing to the short lifespan of radiopharmaceuticals. Siemens is currently working with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to gain approval for the construction of the facilities.

Initially the Chennai facility will focus on the production of fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), the imaging biomarker used in PET scans. The range of products manufactured may be expanded at a later date to include radiopharmaceuticals that are currently in clinical trials for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and cardiac disorders.

Siemens advances in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease were made public last year, with the company claiming to have developed a prototype capable of differentiating between the early stages of Alzheimer’s and low-grade cognitive disturbances. For now Siemens’ focus is on localising manufacture of FDG to make it more affordable, allowing for PET scans to become more widespread in the nation.

At present India is ill-equipped to scan all its cancer patients and the number of those being diagnosed is likely to increase as the nation adopts an increasingly western lifestyle. Siemens is hoping to sell 20 scanners a year, which would help alleviate India’s shortage and build on the company’s healthcare revenues of $250m a year in the nation.