BRIC Countries Expected to Spend $500 Billion on Health Care This Year

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | October 16, 2009

Major players dig in

This cash-flush market hasn't escaped the eyes of America's -- and Europe's -- big OEMs. GE Healthcare, Philips Healthcare and Siemens Healthcare are already established in BRIC countries.

One route is collaborating with the locals. "There are lots of tie-ups," Sharma says. "If you take GE Healthcare, they have been in collaborative ventures with the Chinese Society of Radiology, setting up a training center in China for radiologists." Siemens has taken a similar course and created a Rural Center of Medical Excellence in China, to increase corporate visibility, while Philips recently partnered with Neusoft Medical Systems, one of China's biggest diagnostic imaging companies and a potential global player, which has plans to market products in the U.S. and has already gotten FDA clearance for some of its equipment.

Another option is to buy. Philips has acquired Indian firms Meditronics and Alpha X-ray Technologies, while in Brazil they snagged VMI - Sistemas Medicos, an important local company, Sharma says.

And then there's opening factories -- not just for export, but domestic consumption, too. Responding to Brazil's appetite for CT scanners, Philips has started manufacturing both CT and MRI machines in that country, while GE intends to build an X-ray factory there. GE already has a solid designing and manufacturing presence in India.

The benefit of building locally, Sharma says, is that "they are much closer to the final consumer, so they can incorporate features into their products that the end user wants."

Diagnostic imaging outlook

In 2007, Sharma says, BRIC countries accounted for less than 30 percent of global sales. In 2013, it's expected to rise to 37 percent, as noted.

Meanwhile, America's share declines steadily, from about half the total global market in 2007 to around 40 percent in 2013 in Sharma's forecast. This would make the U.S. share almost equal to the BRIC countries' predicted chunk.

Still, economic turbulence hasn't left the BRIC countries totally unaffected. "Russia did move to buying more lower end systems in 2009 because of [the drop in] oil prices and the impact of that on its economy," Sharma says, though he thinks any setbacks now are probably temporary.

"There is such a huge latent demand in these countries," he says. "Look at the installed base of the scanners, how many scanners there are per capita. It's really small, and lags behind developed countries so much. As their economies have improved so much, and people are more health-conscious now, they want better services from the facilities. They will put pressure on governments for these services."

"I don't see any reason why there would be caveats in terms of demand slowing down," he adds.

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