Chinese Firms Have the Edge
Leading Chinese medical device firm Mindray Medical International is also investing and expanding operations to capitalize on the opportunities the health care overhaul is offering.
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Mindray and other Chinese companies have the edge over Western companies, Kosalos says.
"This is because the Chinese government is supporting all the manufacturers in China, giving them money and land, and is spurring joint ventures all over China," she tells DOTmed News.
First, she says, Chinese manufacturers aim to produce medical equipment for domestic use at lower prices than Western companies make it for. But ultimately, the Chinese want to export high-tech equipment into the U.S., Kosalos says. "They're looking for the latest technology."
Even now, she says, "the Chinese are making ultrasound and patient monitors, which they sell to U.S. distributors at half the price of U.S.-made products, but you have to pay the shipping."
Currently, the Chinese still export mostly lower-tech items like bandages and wheelchairs, Kosalos says, so they have some way to go before they can undersell Western companies in the medtech sector.
Western Companies Undaunted
The Western multinationals who spoke to DOTmed News say they are not afraid of being undersold by Chinese competitors. Quite the contrary, Medtronic, Philips and Varian Medical Systems say they are innovators in one of the largest markets for medical equipment in the world. They say they are there for the long term and are eagerly sharing their newest technologies with their Chinese partners.
For example, Yvan Deurbroeck, Vice President, International Communications for Medtronic, tells DOTmed that "our devices--pacemakers, ICDs, the drug eluting stent Endeavor, spinal products, and cervical discs--all require extensive training and education of the physicians in China who implant them.
"Medtronic has invested heavily in state-of-the-art facilities in China including cath labs and certified internal trainers in China," who teach physicians the latest surgical techniques, Deurbroeck says. Medtronic also invites expert Chinese physicians, as well as European and American physicians from leading medical centers all over the world to provide hands-on training to Chinese physicians.
He adds, "As long as we keep our innovative edge and keep providing first-class training, Medtronic will continue to be a reliable business partner for the Chinese."
Speaking about Philips, Radhika Choksey, a spokeswoman for Philips in China, tells DOTmed that the Dutch company has insinuated itself into the Chinese marketplace since putting down roots there in the 1920s.