Walton-Medtronic ventilators set to hit market finally | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 12, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:47 AM, April 20, 2021

Walton-Medtronic ventilators set to hit market finally

Walton is set to market the ventilators it has produced with the help of world-renowned medical equipment manufacturer Medtronic, a development that would help critical coronavirus patients to receive proper treatment.

The clinical trial of the device is over and the ventilators are now ready for sale. An official announcement will be made within a week, said a number of sources with direct knowledge of the development.

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With this, Walton will be the first firm in Bangladesh to manufacture ventilators.

Anisur Rahman Mallik, chief executive officer of Walton's refrigerator department, said the WPB-560 model ventilator made by Walton with the help of Medtronic was ready for sale.

"On April 10, we received the necessary documents. We will make an official announcement by April 15."

The price of a ventilator will be around Tk 7 lakh, he said.

He declined to comment on the number of ventilators Walton has produced.

The development came when the infections from the rogue virus and the deaths linked to it are rising alarmingly.

Seventy-eight people died from Covid-19 in the 24 hours yesterday, according to the Directorate General of Health Services, the highest death toll in a single day.

Walton came forward to make ventilators in the country after the virus hit the country in March last year. 

It made the ventilators using the patent and design of Medtronic, an Ireland-based medical device company run by Bangladeshi expatriate Omar Ishrak.

A senior Medtronic official said: "We will make an official announcement on April 13."

In March last year, the design of the Medtronic PB 560 model ventilator was unveiled in 35 countries around the world.

Walton was the first company in the world to have signed an agreement with Medtronic. Later, big companies from many other countries signed deals with it.

Ventilators are very important in the treatment of coronavirus patients. Within a few days of being infected, the patient's condition can deteriorate to a point where it can be difficult to save a life without this device.

Ventilators are now in great demand all over the world, including Bangladesh. But the supply is very low compared to that.

As of March, 629 ventilators were in use in the hospitals that are dedicated to treating Covid-19 patients.

MH Chowdhury Lenin, a public health expert and chairman of the medicine department at the Health and Hope Hospital in Dhaka, said oxygen is injected into the lungs by a ventilator. It is used when the human lung fails to function properly.

At present, 80 per cent of the patients who need it are being given ventilation facility, he said.

Md Nazmul Haque, director of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, the country's largest state-run hospital, said the hospital has 20 beds in the intensive care unit and each has a ventilator.

"Had we had 5,000 ICU beds with ventilators, the demand for ventilators will not have fallen. The ventilator crisis has reached such a point."

Zunaid Ahmed Palak, ICT state minister, said: "We have got the permission for the initiative taken by Walton in April last year to make ventilators with the help of Medtronic."

"We will be able to bring it to the market very soon."

The ventilator could be sent to the international market for Tk 12 lakh to Tk 13 lakh, which is 30 per cent to 40 per cent lower than the current price, he said.

However, Walton and another company Minister Hi-Tech Park Electronics had also initiated projects separately to produce ventilators.

But for that initiative, they are yet to receive approval from the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA).

Mostafizur Rahman, deputy operative director of Walton, said: "We have prepared a sample of the two ventilators of Walton's own model and submitted them to the DGDA for clinical trials."

"Some issues have been identified. Further improvements are needed. It will take some time."

Last year, Minister Hi-Tech Park imported raw materials to make 500 ventilators. The raw materials are lying in the warehouse.

It has invested around Tk 18 crore for the ventilation project. But there has not been much headway.

Palak said Walton and Minister Hi-Tech Park had not received the approval for their respective initiative to make ventilators because the clinical trial had not been completed.

DGDA Deputy Director Md Salahuddin said: "We have not yet received the report on the clinical performance of the ventilators being produced by Walton and Minister Hi-Tech Park. We can't allow them to manufacture ventilators before getting the report."

 

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