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Are Chinese products undervalued or are Western products overpriced?

by Philip F. Jacobus, CEO | July 08, 2015
The other day I received a phone call from someone I have known for almost 40 years. He sells monitors to physicians for use in their offices and told me that he lost a sale to a Chinese monitor that costs $700, which is a fraction of what he would sell a U.S. made one for.

I am not sure why he was calling me because I am no monitor expert. He just remembered that I had done a lot of business in China in the late 70s and early 80s.

He did not know — and neither did I — what happens if the monitor breaks.

Who fixes it?

I wonder if it matters if the price is that inexpensive. You could just buy another one.

Neither of us knew whether or not the units worked as well, or how to deal with spare parts.

As I say, I am no expert on monitors but I have to believe that the units that are made in the U.S., Western Europe or Japan are probably more expensive because they are better.

My question is less about what equipment costs and more about how it affects healthcare.

If equipment manufactured in these new markets is not as good, will accuracy suffer?

Would I be just as comfortable if my treatment plan included a budget monitor or centrifuge or even ultrasound machine?

I do not want to single out China because there are a lot of markets where the manufacturing firms are still getting their act together.

Whether you are a critic of the Affordable Care Act or not, I sure hope that lower quality equipment is not an unintended consequence of a larger and aging population.

That is all for now.

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About Phil Jacobus

Phil Jacobus has been involved in health care since 1977, when he visited China to sell equipment. He has done business in 35 countries and still travels extensively. Phil is active in charity, helps rural clinics and always tries to help DOTmed users when he can.

Phil is a member of AHRA, HFMA, AAMI and the Cryogenic Society of America. He has contributed to a number of magazines and journals and has addressed trade groups.

Phil's proudest achievement is that he has been happily married to his wife Barbara since 1989, who helped him found DOTmed in 1998.


Leon Zebrick

Chinese Products

July 10, 2015 07:01

In the United States, physiological monitors are considered Class II medical devices and are regulated as such by the FDA. The FDA requires premarket notification, GMP in production, and postmarket surveillance. A market price-point of $700 would suggest to me that none of the above would be in place. If that’s true, I wonder then if use of the device in commercial application in the US would even be legal. Considering also the amount of litigation surrounding medical device related incidents, I couldn’t recommend purchase to my employer.

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Steven Clark

Chinese Medical Devices

July 10, 2015 10:04

Leon and Philip each bring up good points about Chinese medical products. Additionall,do they pay the medical device tax? Are they ISO cerified and their methodologies and processes compliant?
On the other hand,I am sure that most of electronic commodities that are for sale from North American and European OEMs is, in fact, sourced from China. I expect this trend to continue if left unabated.
In fact, entire imaging systems are currently sourced out of China for at least 2 out of the major 3 suppliers that I am personally aware of.

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